Just two rounds of polling are left, one on Sunday and on May 19. Some 10 days before the votes are counted. But the Delhi Durbar is already in dress rehearsal mode. Five star hotels in and around the Lutyens zone are booked in advance for the period between May 24 and June 5. Interestingly, most of the bookings are being placed by regional parties from southern India, like DMK, TDP as also TRS. Or so is the buzz. Obviously, these parties are hoping to play a crucial role in the next government formation. Unlike the state assemblies, parading of elected representatives in favour or against has never been the norm for government formation at the Centre, even if there’s a hung Parliament. In the mid-nineties, the United Front took some time choosing a PM, but the MPs were not pressed for a parade. Therefore, the MPs could have their own axe to grind. Lutyens real estate is a big issue, who gets which bungalow to stay. Part of the rush to Delhi is said to be about giving themselves first movers’ advantage. MP-friendly contacts in the Urban Development Ministry and the Lok Sabha Secretariat have been getting overtures and requests from those who are convinced they’ll retain their seats and those who are hopeful of making a comeback after a five-year hiatus.
Of surveys and strategies
Both the BJP and the GOP, meanwhile, have been rustling up internal surveys and holding core group meetings to draw up post-poll strategies. The numbers emanating from the ruling dispensation ranges between 240 and 295. More than BJP, the talking heads of the NDA allies, like Shiv Sena and the Akalis are letting it out that ‘big brother’ is falling short of the half way mark. In the GOP, the party’s collective leadership is putting their figures in the range of 140-45 seats. However, the new high command, it seems, is confident of emerging the single largest party, around 175ish. How each is arriving at the figures, the statewide breakup, is kept under wraps.
Let’s play footsie
May 23 may throw up a surprise, of course. Till then, the regional satraps are much in demand. By according Narendra Modi all the courtesies shown to a PM during a state visit, post-cyclone Fani, Naveen Patnaik has indicated that he would continue to tread the path of ‘pragmatic’ politics that benefits Odisha. But KCR and Jagan Mohan Reddy have been blowing hot and cold. In other words, giving out signals that can be interpreted in many ways. A top Congress leader, who shares a good equation with YSR and family, has been dispatched to open channels. Jagan’s remark that he’s forgiven the Congress has given the GOP hope. There’s a catch though, Jagan and KCR may be working as a combined block to ensure the divided states retain the heft of the erstwhile AP.
The Lok Sabha Secretariat is putting together the blueprint to welcome new members. Room 62 of Parliament is being refurbished — that’s where the identity cards for the housing slips of MPs would be distributed. Welcome desks are to be set up both at Delhi airport and the railways stations for the newly elected.
Where is Mani Aiyar?
The Congress and particularly late Rajiv Gandhi have been dragged into controversy, but his friend and aide Mani Shankar Aiyar is not to be heard. So much so that WhatsApp jokes are doing the rounds, to the effect that Mani has been hit by the Balakot bombs. Well, the former Union minister has had a bypass surgery in February and is taking it easy. Besides, it seems, the Gandhi family has requested him to keep mum till May 23!
The author is Resident Editor, Bangalore, TNIE. Email: