Vantage point

Monday, May 10, 2004


The exit polls are throwing up prospects of a nail-biting finish in the Lok Sabha elections. Taking into account various exit polls, the NDA will get anywhere between 230-270 seats. The Congress -Left combine looks like it will get between 220-260 seats.

In such a close race, the winner is often decided by the exact numbers. However this time, even more than ever, it looks as if the Prime Ministership will be decided in Lucknow. No, I am not talking about the candidature of Vajpayee. I am talking about the envious position the SP and BSP are in. Now whichever exit poll you take, the NDA looks like it will get at least 10-15 seats more than the Congress-Left combine. The SP looks like it will get about 10-15 seats more than the BSP.

First let us examine the possibility of BSP supporting the NDA. This can happen if a quid-pro-quo is struck so thatthe BJP promises BJP support in the UP Assembly. For all the noises Mayawati makes against the BJP, another alliance won't shock anyone. In such a case, if SP joins the Congress and the BSP joins the NDA, then the result will literally be too close to call, with even individual seats having a lot ofimportance. In such a scenario, seats like Chhapra will assume even greater significance, especially if Sharad Yadav wins in Madhepura again.

The best bet for the Congress would be to get both the SP and BSP on board. This would be Herculean task however and they will really need a true Machiavelli to achieve this. Only Sharad Pawar seems to have the guile and the standing to make that happen. However as of now, Mayawati, in its true style is lambasting all in sight, giving no one any clue about what she wll do. Don't forget how she caused the ouster of the Vajpayee government in 1999.

Right now the NDA and the Congress+ are neck to neck. Only May 13 will tell us what happens.

I wonder what the Congress' position is on the IIM issue. The babus in the Ministry are heavily in favour of the fee cut, and a la "Yes Minister", for all we know it may be the babus cracking the real whip.

In Andhra Pradesh, the TDP is headed towards a massive rout. Babu is on his way out, and I guess that means curtains for a Hyderabad F1 Grand Prix. :) Go Mumbai!! But on a more serious note, it will be interesting to see what the Congress government in AP does about the Telangana issue. There are two aspects to it. One is that the Congress looks set to win a majority on its own. So it can ditch the TRS and sit on the Telangana issue. Another aspect is that the Congress and allies in AP look set to get a 2/3rd majority, which means they have the power to create a separate state even without the TDP's support. Which way will the Congress go? Which strategy hold more logn term beenfit? The Congress will have to make political NPV calculations. If it gives Telangana statehood, then Vidarbha willbecome an issue during the Maharashtra Assembly polls later in the year.

Coming back to the Lok Sabha, the BJP appears to have made a colossal blunder by throwing in its lot with the AIADMK instead of the DMK, if the exit polls are to be believed.

In general it looks like though the Hindi belt may remain loyal to the NDA, it is the sub-Vindhya region that voted it out, with the exception of Karnataka.

Anyway, let's see what happens on the 13th May. This time, apparently the results will be knownby the early afternoons!!

But I guess there will be a few panicky BJP men right now, like a team chasing a 270plus total in an ODI, and having lost crucial wickets. Jaylalitha and Naidu have been dismissed cheaply. Let us see if there can be a lower order fightback.