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Politicians try to play it cool ahead of poll results

Last updated on: March 6, 2012 08:11 IST

Politicians try to play it cool ahead of poll results

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BS reporter in New Delhi

They might have butterflies in their stomach, a dry mouth and sweaty palms. However, on camera, they exuded confidence and the air of business as usual. This was the palpable mood of politicians across parties a day before the result of the most crucial set of elections since 2009 was to be declared.

The award for the "most anxious political party" must go to the Congress. By late evening, all its general secretaries had slunk away. One of them said he was busy in party work, on Assembly by-election.

Another said he had unspecified pressing engagements. Media in charge, Janardhan Dwivedi, said what he had to on record, reproved colleague Beni Prasad Verma for speaking out of turn and left, smiling affably. Though party leaders did the rounds of TV studios hours ahead of the results, all positions were on the record; no one had any off-the-record predictions simply because no one was sure what to say.

The atmosphere in the Bharatiya Janata Party was one of desperate gay revelry. A Holi-milan organised by party president, Nitin Gadkari, turned into an occasion to stuff your face and smile grimly. The normally affable and polite Gadkari lost his cool when eight TV channels asked him the same set of questions one after another. "You are taking undue advantage of my hospitality," he told one of them.

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Image: Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma


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Party leader Arun Jaitley was in form but refused to answer any election-related question. "We're going to get it in the neck tomorrow. Why get it in the neck today?" he said amid a roar of laughter. He proceeded to list the stock tools of a politician before TV when he had nothing else to say.

This comprises five phrases: '24 hours is a long time in politics'; 'anything can happen in politics'; 'wait and watch'; 'this is only a semi-final'; and 'there are no permanent friends and no permanent enemies'. Mimicry followed, prompting a colleague to ask if anyone had slipped a "little something" to Jaitley.

Reports from Lucknow suggested the Samajwadi Party was exultant, in the mood for celebration. An SP supporter said on TV the party would uproot the statues installed by Mayawati and build schools and hospitals on their ruins to show people what could be done with Dalit parks.

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Image: BJP leader Arun Jaitley


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A critic of the Samajwadi Party who posted a write-up on Facebook that Uttar Pradesh should now prepare for the regime of "Akhilesh bhaiya and Dimple bhabhi" received scores of threatening messages, and he had to shut the page down. "Aaj raat se laathi ko tel pilana shuru (they are getting ready to teach the losers a lesson)," said a Dalit activist about the mood in the Yadav camp.

In contrast, UP chief minister Mayawati's office and residence were absolutely quiet. Dalit families anxiously activated their networks to find out from far-flung areas whether the BSP had really done as badly as the exit polls were predicting.

But at a meeting with her ministerial colleagues, Mayawati looked cool and composed. "Let them (SP) say what they like," she was reported to have commented with a smile. "We are the ones forming the government. Don't worry," she was reported to have said to one of her colleagues.


Image: UP Chief Minister Mayawati


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