New Delhi, Aug. 27: When M. Venkaiah Naidu spoke of how the UPA government had “lost” majority on the issue of “tainted” ministers or Arun Jaitley painted a doomsday scenario on mayhem in the economy, their statements were as much of random or considered observations on politics as self-fulfilling prophecies. What were the prophecies based on' Inside dope on the UPA’s imminent downfall or external machinations or just good old astrology' The last, of course.
Out of power, the BJP is literally trying to clasp every star that falls from the heavenly arch to light up the march to recapture power. Flashing the strongest beacon at the moment is Lachman Das Madan, a Delhi astrologer who acquired celebrity status after he predicted neither Atal Bihari Vajpayee nor Sonia Gandhi would become Prime Minister.
The buzz at the BJP headquarters was that Vajpayee, who otherwise lapped up every word printed in Madan’s monthly almanac (sorry, magazine), Babaji, was “displeased” with him and that a senior party functionary gave the astrologer a mouthful. Once events proved him right, Vajpayee and company were forced to take him seriously again.
Madan did not let them down. The soothsayer’s first prediction made from a hospital bed — he fell ill shortly after the Lok Sabha results were out — was that: “On June 18, a bad period for the UPA government began. Within one month, they will face obstacles. Within two months, some of their allies will leave them. Within a month, thereafter, there will be agitations. I will not be surprised if this government is defeated. By September 26, the process will be through.”
More news to cheer the BJP. “The BJP will be part of the new coalition. There will be a split in the Congress,” he said.
Uncanny' Piffle' Ask anyone in the BJP and they will tell you earnestly how events fit into the trajectory traced by Madan. The Left is “barking and biting” on every conceivable issue; Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is under “threat” from Arjun Singh and Pranab Mukherjee; Ram Vilas Paswan and Laloo Prasad Yadav have split; Sharad Pawar is flexing his muscles before the Maharashtra polls; the Telengana Rashta Samiti is edgy on a separate Telengana state. In short, the UPA’s cup of woes brimmeth over.
The obstacles are in face but no ally has yet left the coalition. Relax, the BJP thinks it’s a matter of time before Paswan walks out and embraces the NDA again. Babaji’s dead right so far.
As for agitations, the UPA has more than its share: the truckers’ strike, rising prices, Uma Bharti will be out on the streets with her tiranga (Tricolour) and the Shiv Sena has already burnt effigies of Mani Shankar Aiyar for “insulting” Veer Savarkar.
How does all of this add up to a political turmoil in Delhi' The BJP has it worked out and its blueprint is based on Madan’s forecast. He called the Prime Minister a “gentleman among crooks” and prophesied he will not be able to take the heat of realpolitik and will quit very soon.
Believe it or not, even senior party strategists quoted the astrologer, chapter and verse, when they explained that the “gentle” Singh will not be able to take the pressure of the BJP’s agitation on “tainted” ministers and will rather put in his papers than put up with Laloo Prasad and his colleagues. And because Sonia would not have another leader in his place — “she does not trust Mukherjee or Arjun Singh” — she would rather let the government go.
Enter the BJP. Vajpayee will be re-anointed as the Prime Minister, the RSS, Advani and other “deterrents” notwithstanding and a “secular” alternative, acceptable to Mulayam Singh Yadav and the others will be in place. Paswan and the DMK will have left the UPA but not RJD. So will Pawar, never mind the Maharashtra polls which he will fight jointly with the Congress.
Madan had some advice for Advani. “If Advani lets go of his role as the leader of the Opposition and becomes the BJP president, there will be a positive decision in favour of the Ayodhya temple.” In other words, Advani should not stand in Vajpayee’s way. BJP sources wondered if this was the reason why Naidu has been looking shaky of late.
Another reason why the BJP earnestly believed that Singh’s days as Prime Minister were numbered was because no non-Brahmin head was able to complete his term, whether it was Lal Bahadur Shastri, Charan Singh, V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, H.D. Deve Gowda or I.K. Gujral. The only exception was Morarji Desai who despite being a Brahmin lasted barely three years.