E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: My friend, the Ace Political Expert (APE) who reads political moves like the back of his hand even in his dreams, tried to avoid me when I spotted him at a distance on the lawns of our club.
After I managed to buttonhole him, he agreed to have a drink with me after much coaxing. He ordered for fresh lime and soda instead of his usual whisky-soda combine. The electoral verdict seemed to have sobered him.
“What happened to all your predictions? You were predicting a hung Parliament!” I asked.
“I have never had it so bad in my entire career. The only consolation is I am in the august company of pundits who predicted 1 to 2 % swings, similar to the bowling of Albie Morkel and Praveen Kumar in IPL2 , but were also way off the mark. Nobody takes them seriously anymore.”
“Tell me, did anybody in their wildest dreams expect this kind of result?”
“Nobody. Who could have guessed that the Congress would beat the BJP, beard Lalu and Behenji in their owns dens, rout Chandrababu Naidu and TRS, outwit Sharad Pawar and Shiv Sena, erase the Left from the political map of India and cut their own allies to size? It couldn’t have happened so well even if they had planned it out. It all happened at the press of a button and electronic counting.”
“Was it in the Congress grahas (stars)?” I queried.
“Again, no is the answer. Most of the astrologers, who did homas by the dozens in the last two weeks, have lost their deposit too—meaning trust—with their clients. Both political pundits and astrologers have become pariahs after the verdict. It will take a long time before anybody takes us seriously.”
“What is happening right now?”
“Television channels that have done this before are redoubling their efforts. Everyday new terms are being coined such as ‘Rahul Effect’; ‘Rahul Factor’. Soon, other terms such as ‘Rahul Theorem’, ‘Rahul Lemma’, ‘Rahul Express’ will start appearing. It is not new to them.”
“Do you think Karunanadhi’s DMK will ultimately join the cabinet?”
“Now that his bosom buddy Velupillai Prabhakaran is dead, Karuna is fighting solo for the cause of “Tamils’ rights”. He has taken it up at the highest level, no less than the Prime Minister of India himself. As always, no fight of Karunanidhi is complete without a quick “breakfast–fast-lunch” and a Tamil Nadu bandh. The Tamil problem will be solved as soon as Congress agrees to give plum posts to his children; and some sundry posts to his grand-nephews etc!”
“One final question. You had visited Washington with our Prime Minister as a part of the press corps. When will US understand India’s point of view on anything?”
“They will never understand. From the time of Eisenhower till now they have always brushed aside India and its concerns. Our external affairs ministers and ambassadors generally have a nice time there. No one has succeeded in making US understand India’s point of view. There is only one way to do that.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“Make Pakistan present our problems and concerns. They will accept it and reward Pakistan handsomely for bringing it to their notice!” replied the APE as he finished second glass of fresh lime and soda.