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Happy birthday' Not for prophets
- Fresh from Musharraf encounter, Prime Minister faces tightrope walk at home

I am not an astrologer and I am not one who is good at forecasting. I am told that those who forecast and their forecasts come true, in the words of Dante, they are condemned to go to hell.

That was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the New York Stock Exchange last week, thumbing his nose at people predicting troubles torpedoing his government from September 26, the date recorded as his birthday.

But the prophets of doom are neither slowed, nor swayed.

Astrologer Babaji Lachhman Das Madan iterates every word he has spoken will come true. The sequence of events that could topple Singh's government has been set in motion.

'I did not say September 26. But I said that the period when things begin to go wrong will begin and troubles with Pakistan will come forth by November 2, 2004,' said Madan, the editor of an astrological magazine.

He predicts a bad period will begin for the Congress and a 'Kargil-like situation will develop by February 9, 2005'.

'We will have to get our children out of college and send them to fight wars,' said Madan. 'A very important leader in India will get assassinated and murdered on January 10, 2005. Change is coming but you cannot stop it,' he added, ominously.

The assassination of a 'very important leader' has been predicted by another astrologer, Ajai Bhambi, but by this December.

'By giving dates, it does not mean that the government is going to fall on that day itself. It means that a period of long drawn-out trouble will begin, there will be no changes straightaway. One thing is clear, that this government will not complete its term,' he explained today.

The stars indicated an internal crisis in the government and the next three months were critical, he said.

The BJP is clued in. The party has been grabbing every straw that could fuel the downfall of the Congress-led regime and afford it another shot at power.

It has sniffed out another worst-case scenario, couched in the hard-edged realism of economics. At a BJP chief ministers' conference in Delhi recently, L.K. Advani flaunted a report of Germany's Deutschebank, which has given Singh 18 months at 7 Race Course Road.

It says there will be serious problems within the United Progressive Alliance government close to the Bengal and Kerala ' states where the communists, key allies of Singh, have substantial interests ' elections, due in 2006.

The report talks of issues that will create a rift between the Left and the Congress, leaving the communists unable to prop up the Singh government.

Since the conference, the contents of this report have been tom-tommed several times. It could be a weak attempt to deflect attention from the BJP's own troubles.

The tiranga yatra is losing steam, the rift between Uma Bharti and M. Venkaiah Naidu is creating tension in the parivar and the party is craving a strong central leadership, apart from Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Advani.

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