Okay, first things first. I’m not going to say I told you so — mainly because I didn’t. Nobody I know expected a Congress victory of this magnitude. The political pundits were wrong. The exit polls underestimated the Congress’ popularity in such key states as Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Even the Gandhis did not think that such a massive victory was on its way. Priyanka Gandhi told Outlook that it was “touch and go”. And her mother, always the cautious one in the family, told friends that she would be happy if the party got 150 seats or so. Ahmed Patel, the Congress’ key strategist, had a more optimistic expectation (170-180) but even he did not think that 200 was a possibility. Read more
When it comes to the Gujarat election, nothing is as simple as it seems. Take the BJP, for instance. It is a party in disarray, confounded by the virtual withdrawal of AB Vajpayee from public life, demolished in Uttar Pradesh, at war with itself and desperately in search of a coherent ideology. You would expect that because Gujarat offers the BJP its single best hope of a morale-boosting victory, the party would do everything possible to win the election.
On Friday, terrorists set off bombs at law courts in several cities in Uttar Pradesh. As the news of the blasts trickled in, the response of most news organisations was to mobilise all resources and to plan for extensive coverage. TV channels flashed ‘Breaking News’ bulletins on their tickers and rushed correspondents and camera crews to the sites of the explosions. Researchers worked the phones lining up experts on security issues for the discussion programmes that would be telecast live that evening.