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Twenty five years ago, 1984 was, if not Orwelian, an exceptionally tough year for India: Operation Blue Star, Indira Gandhi assassination, Sikh Carnage, Bhopal Gas Tragedy, and, Shekhar Gupta reminds us in the Indian Express:
And yet, that year ended on a note of resurgence and optimism of a kind rarely seen in our history. Rajiv won a mandate that made the adjective “historic” an understatement. In fact, he put it more aptly when, in his first interview, he acknowledged that people’s expectations were “scary”.
Remember, he had got 412 seats in the same Lok Sabha then. Now, his party has secured 206, exactly half as many, and the wave of optimism it has unleashed, in so many ways, is comparable to those heady days of a quarter century ago. OK, we must admit that our politics has evolved in so complicated a manner in these 25 years that 206 is probably the new 412. But the natural corollary, then, is that, just like the mandate of 1984, this one has also generated popular expectations that a realistic and intelligent politician would describe as “scary”. And the problem with such mandates is that they leave the voters more impatient, less forgiving. Feel-good takes no time to turn into disillusionment, and the voter often comes back at you with the fury of a jilted lover. ..
Read on at the Indian Express
This is from before what is now being described as the Verdict 2009. Part II of Shekhar Gupta's On the wall, off the road:
[Jaya Prada] fields questions from us in her “Emperor Suite” in a circuit house-ish hotel on the outskirts of Rampur, 200 km from Delhi, delightful malapropisms dropping from her mouth like ripened mangoes from trees during a summer storm in these parts, produced with all the nonchalance of a Lalu:
“It was one of the part of the game, people are affectionative.” “I want, dada, I just want to have a feel of occupation,” she says, suggesting that politics gives her a feel of being relevant, important, even occupied.
On having to choose between NTR and Chandra Babu Naidu: “I stand there in the middle of the road. I have to choose which side I bend,” she recalls, not knowing whether to go right or left. She chose Babu who was initially nice, gave her Rajya Sabha, and then dumped her. She tried to return to Bollywood, but found that in Mumbai, meanwhile, things had changed and there were no roles for her, because she was good with “subbued” roles and now movies were different. “It was, like, dada, a car brakes at a hundred miles per hour. I did not know where to go. Pressure was immensive.”
Shekhar Gupta in the Indian Express:
...as a member of a small and motley group of journalists, TV anchors, psephologists and economists — the self-proclaimed Limousine Liberals in an election — I search for the message of change (or the lack of it) from what is written on the walls...Reform economists would love the idea, but he also has some ideas that come straight from hell...Read all about them and another encounter with Chiranjeevi and the fascinating “Mother Teresa Dance Academy” here: On the wall, off the road - 1
...Chandrababu Naidu: “I got so obsessed with praise from all of you, that I lost contact with people ... I became a nationalist, a statesman, and got obsessed with that image. I forgot my villages, the voters, and I will never make that mistake again. Five years out of power have been terrible. I have really suffered and struggled.” He then unveils his modified “reform” thinking. Pro-market reforms, he says, must continue, but you can’t wait for trickle-down as “I did the last time.” Reform will create wealth, he says, but the state must distribute it immediately. His solution, however, is more immediate than you would have imagined: he carries an ATM machine with him and tells voters how he will give cards to all the poor so, once a month, all they need to do is push the card into the machine, and Rs 2,000 will come out, and this is how...
Incidentally, if we are to believe the NDTV exit poll, Chandrababu Naidu is not likely to be in a position to be implementing any of his new ideas...
Shekhar Gupta in the Indian Express:
Whichever opinion poll may be correct, the BJP and its “like-minded” NDA will get, including Shiv Sena and the Akalis, at least 150 seats or thereabouts. These can never join a Congress-led or a third front-type “secular” coalition. Similarly, the Congress and several third- and fourth-front constituents (Left, SP, RJD, Muslim League), who need the Muslim vote or have an aggressive secular core, will never go with the NDA. So this takes another 250 or so MPs out of the equation. The endgame therefore will be played among the remaining 150.
And, finally, "whichever coalition comes to power, Ramadoss, Paswan, Kumaraswamy (junior Gowda) and Ajit Singh will be in its cabinet."
More here: The Glorious Uncertainties