Home > News > Elections 2004 > Report
Daily Take: It's all one big friendly party
April 30, 2004 04:29 IST
As they say in Hindi, yeh toh hona hi tha.
No sooner had the results of the exit polls — the exit polls commissioned by some media organisations, mind you, not the real polls conducted by the Election Commission — emerged than politicians of various hues began making their own post-election calculations.
So jittery Bharatiya Janata Party leaders began making overtures towards any and every possible ally who could bring them a couple of seats, if not more, in the event of the National Democratic Alliance falling short of the magic figure of 272.
On the other hand, long-time Congress ally Laloo Prasad Yadav, the redoubtable chief of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, issued a stern statement against fellow Yadav politician from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, Mulayam Singh, accusing him of being soft on the BJP.
In case of a hung Parliament, which looks likely at this stage, a Congress-led coalition 'minus Mulayam Singh' would take over, Laloo Prasad claimed.
The very next day, however, he softened his stand and said Mulayam Singh would be acceptable as a partner in the Congress-led alliance, though not his "dictates and conditions".
Meanwhile, 'old friend' George Fernandes of the Janata Dal United has had nothing but sweet words for Mulayam Singh, who is officially a bitter opponent but is increasingly being seen, within the NDA and without, as a possible saviour in the event of an incomplete verdict.
Then there is 'Behenji' Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party, whose moves no one, not even her own party, can predict, but whom neither side wants to annoy at this stage.
BJP leaders are also trying to keep the suspense over Sharad Pawar and his Nationalist Congress Party alive. Though Pawar has aligned with the Congress, he has not publicly or clearly dropped his opposition to Sonia Gandhi's candidature for the prime ministership.
With the third phase of polling still a week away, as much energy will doubtless be expended on working on theoretical post-election calculations as on the campaigns in progress.
Of course, the exit polls have led to some major revamps of the campaign strategies of both primary foes.
The BJP is now putting all its might into the campaign for the remaining 48 seats in Uttar Pradesh, in an effort to stem the supposed erosion of its votes in what is politically India's most crucial state.
The ruling party has planned a virtual blitz, with several important leaders from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee downwards descending on the state in the next few days.
The Congress, on the other hand, is likely to use the Gandhi siblings, Priyanka and Rahul, on a wider scale than had been previously planned.
The party believes there is a definite turnaround caused by Rahul's entry into electoral politics and Priyanka's campaign and would like to press home the advantage in other important states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan as well.
As we head into May, this frenzy of activity will only push the temperatures up further. But while running high-voltage campaigns is fine, the crucial part for both sides will be coaxing their supporters out in the burning North Indian summer to actually vote for them.
He-man must have heaved a sigh of relief on Wednesday. Even if temporarily, he got a reprieve from the court on the subject of his two wives.
The Indore court in which two Congress politicians had filed a case against the star for not disclosing his second marriage in his election nomination form dismissed the complaint on a technical point.
The reason: The plaintiffs failed to submit copies of Dharmendra's nomination papers to support their case.
Dharmendra may hope that is where the matter will rest. But it may well be a vain hope.
Talking of wives, while Dharmendra has two, Vajpayee has none. And Rabri Devi, wife of Laloo Prasad Yadav, thinks that's a disqualification.
Addressing an election rally in Madhepura, where her husband is once again contesting the election against his old friend-turned-foe Sharad Yadav, the chief minister of Bihar accused the prime minister of doing precious little to better the lot of women.
"Vajpayee is not married," she said, "and that is the reason why he does not know the miseries women are facing."
The positive aspect, however, is that the prime minister does not have a cricket XI in his household.
Daily Take: Against the popular will