Thirteen years, seven months, and seven days ago, yours truly was taking an early-morning political class for students at the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media in Bangalore.
It was Monday, 17 May 2004.
The wise, “ignorant” masses of Bharat had ejected the hype of ‘India Shining’, force-fed by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s ministers and their media chamchas, and rejected the BJP-led NDA government.
To every urban Indian’s surprise—the top 26 cities all backed BJP—the Congress-led UPA found itself back in power. So, who would be the next Prime Minister was an engaging topic for discussion in the IIJNM classroom.
With the right-wing’s only intellectual with an IQ of 99—Subramaniam Swamy, if you have to ask—staging a ‘thandav’ over Sonia Gandhi‘s foreign origin, the question “Who next?” was even more germane.
The Class of ‘04 discussed the possibilities in the light of rumours that the then President Abdul Kalam had thrown a spanner in the Congress works—and then asked me to put my journalistic money where my professorial mouth was.
“The best-case scenario,” I said, “would be for Sonia Gandhi to be elected leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party, for Sonia Gandhi to politely decline it, and for someone like Manmohan Singh to be appointed PM.”
Just like that.
So, should you really be surprised that the first ever mention on Twitter of Narendra Damodar Modi as a future Prime Minister of India was made, not by a bhakt, but by a handle called @churumuri exactly 10 years ago, today?
Or, that the only English journalist to predict—on live television before counting started last Monday—that both BJP and Congress would end up with double-digit scores in Gujarat elections was you-know-who.
You are warned!
Postscript: What do I make of Dwarkanath Guruji’s prediction that Karnataka will have a new CM in 2018, and Narendra Modi will be an “unquestionable leader” (sic) till 2022?
Let me just say that only one of those two will come true, but not the one you are thinking!
As the ‘Coffee House’ waiter Vincent wisely says in Vivek Shanbhag’s ‘Ghachar Ghochar’: “Let it go, Sir.”