Congress success Election analysis Sanjay Jha

And the lessons are: Election 2009


Society Columnists : When asked about the “ cow-belt”, some “ De-light disaster” said; “ Oh really, is that the latest fashion accessory from Ralph Lauren”??? May be she should occasionally drive down to discover the “ real India” beyond Worli Sea-face before writing those insufferably trite comments on Indian politics celebrating the common man. The aam aadmi is much more clairvoyant, intelligent and self-respecting than some of us in Jimmy Choo’s. Shall we say—Enough is enuff!

TV News anchors: Please stop those awkward self-congratulatory pats on the back for being “ closest” to their exit polls , and do an in-studio celebration of flushed psephologists, looking tongue-tied . At least , in that case, also declare honestly that your closest was wide off the mark , and woefully out of sync. It is like choosing between several losers, who fared the least-worse. Incidentally, yours truly, without all the razzmatazz trappings of expensive market research and colossal TV time , hit the bulls’ eye ( please check article, Exit Polls and Basic Instinct for full state-wide break –up) and predicted that the Congress alone would safely get 170, stretchable up to 180, and that the Congress-UPA would reach 226, stretchable up to 240. Sorry folks, but you got whacked by a whopping margin, despite huge financial budgets.

Friends of BJP: It’s good to have a lot of friends; but it is important to also acknowledge that those who do not support you are not necessarily your enemies. It is important to listen, and not get blinded and immune to realities around you. There is life beyond TV studio rooms . And the voter is outside somewhere, unfortunately.

Arun Jaitley: Please SMILE. Every time the savvy, erudite, articulate Jaitley came on TV he lost the party approximately 231 votes per constituency every 2.5 minutes, based on my market research. Jaitley’s passion is commendable, his grumpy exterior is not.

Times Now: I know the channel has got some deservedly good ratings after 26/11, but not every event, and certainly not the Indian election, is a terrorist invasion, so a bit of restraint would have helped. Managed to get a good guest-mix but handling 9 voices simultaneously, each practically unstoppable, was a tough ask.

NDTV: Every time you think elections, it is Dr Prannoy Roy and NDTV that takes pole position. The Buck Stops Here had a “cool” quotient, and maintained high quality control throughout. What worked was the absence of mischievous malice and trenchant trauma of fringe spokespeople obsessed with scoring brownie points, and well staggered capsules.

Zee News: The buck did not even pause here.

Abhishek Singhvi: Congress party’s true-blue rock star! And my personal favorite. Singhvi is always a confident combatant, never letting any provocative posturing of opponents disturb his equanimity. He won the Congress a lot of votes from air conditioned comfort. But both Chandan Mitra with that electric kurta-collection and he could consider hiring Rocky S as a wardrobe consultant.

Vir Sanghvi: Dapper and dashing former HT editor (although I don’t know why he was looking as chubby as Tabassum), the nicest thing about Vir is that he is laconic, precise and hits the bull’s eye with a wicked smile.

Shekhar Gupta: Possesses the remarkable ability to provide insight and meaning in events and figures that most tend to overlook. Also the fact that he has a lot of respect for politicians , because he knows that there are several amongst them who are truly outstanding. No cheeky condescension, no talk-down. A true-blue journalist that today’s generation of writers can learn a lot from.

Ravi Shankar Prasad: BJPs best spokesperson; smiled even when opponents hit hard, made his points effectively and took on the anchors when they short-charged him. Also, he is spontaneous and has an agreeable disposition. BJP needs more like him. Well done, RSP.

Sudheendra Kulkarni: Obviously he is a hard-liner, but sometimes he toppled over. Practised to perfection, he appeared to be too strait-jacketed, not allowing for a reasonable, rational debate even when that was in the realm of discussions. Kulkarni is sharp and witty and knows his agenda, but takes himself too seriously.

Another society columnist: On a TV show, she told Meera Sanyal(South Mumbai candidate) she would vote for her. Ms Sanyal promptly lost her deposit, so much for political intelligence if not for personal preferences. Empty air-bag masquerading as a seasoned hack, with just one agenda — anti-Congress-ism. Must we still digest her vitriolic , vicious rubbish week after week in one of India’s most readable dailies?

Mayawati: All the pre-election talk of creating a national base and knocking off Congress supporters came to naught; her hit rate is a joke. At best, will remain a UP story for a while. But every story has an end. The caste game is fast dissipating; time for another formulation, Maam? How about some honest governance, to begin with ?

Lalu Prasad Yadav: An outstanding Railway Minister, he let the virus of arrogance consume his otherwise shrewd political craftiness. He might still go to Harvard for an occasional lecture (these days everyone form India is getting a visiting slot there) but Rail Bhawan looks a far-away station at the moment.

Amar Singh: It was good to see him speak in English, although I don’t know whether he uses Microsoft Vista. That SP manifesto was a joke, as was the Jaya Pradha episode with Azam Khan. I expect Vishal Bharadwaj to make a block-buster on that dramatic exchange.

Sharad Pawar: At best, he will get a prime Ministry.

Nitish Kumar: For one day, he was king. For two-days, he was supposedly king-maker. But Nitish should continue the hard work, and try and not travel to Ludhiana too often.

Prakash Karat: He must be the only guy secretly thrilled with the global recession, what with talk of economic nationalism. And the return of the “state”; but even he may not have anticipated the current “state” of affairs in his over-rated party. Karat could do with some Groucho Marx to drive away the blues at the moment.

Varun Gandhi: Some of us get older, but we do not necessarily grow-up.

Narendra Modi: Godhra and growth may have worked in his favor in Gujarat, but Gujarat is not India, Mr Modi! And mere abuse and ho-hum gets you nowhere. The only good news for him is that even 5 years hence, the BJP will think he is the young one. Modi ji should watch the Oscar winner The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; and buy himself some toys in anticipation.

Venkaiah Naidu: Every time he said “Barkha ji”in his incredible drawl , Barkha Dutt choked. So did we.


  1. A great article Sanjay…..extremely precise and you hit the bulle eye….thse page 3 socialites masquerading as activists should be exposed….please hit them in your style……hit them repeatedly sanjay


  2. This is fun. I wish I could place the first socialite though. Was it meant as a diffuse profile, alternatively? Guessed the second one with due smugness.
    By the way, did you perchance mean the Azam Khan, Jayaprada episode (as against Jayalalita?)

  3. cute 🙂
    socialites need to understand that manufactured outrage is not a substitute for genuine involvement, nor is glibness a substitute for substance.
    that English language channels are watched by less than 3% of the audience – altho’ lots of NRI”s watch the feed and believe that everyone in India does the same. Hindi channels like NDTV India or even pan nationl channels like DD News offere a more balanced coverage !!

    the electorate -it is interesting that every one who threw their hat into the PM ring -mein bhi PM types – got spanked by the voters. Laloo, Paswan, Maya, Jaya, Pawar, Modi – i wonder if this is the real coming of age of the voter.

    The BJP needs to reform or die. I can only see two options for it – it goes into the extreme right British Naional Party Space or it moves int o the Centre Right space. The former will kill it. the latter will help it revive – without the nutcase element !

    and finally, in your post, there is s line that reads Jayalalitha and Azam Khan – it should be Jaya Pradha and Azam Khan 🙂 tho’ the thought is interesting 🙂

  4. LoL Loved the dig at Sharad Pawar. In ’91, he was so close, he probably still thinks it’s ’91. TV channel descriptions are spot on, but I am surprised you missed the horrible whispering and murmuring that was going on in the NDTV studios. Fun read. Thanks

    1. Yes, I think it was extremely awkward that seasoned politicians openly bared their ambitions, and would have done deals to get there, had we received a different verdict. Appreciate your feedback.

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