I envy some of my fellow journalists, who, when asked, what is their reading of the situation, snap in with facts, figures analysis of the elections. With me it goes something like this:
"What is you reading?"
"I want to know from you. You presswallas are the people in the know."
"We know as much as you do. After all, who can say. "The situation is very fluid."
"You think it will be a hung parliament? At least, I think so."
"You are probably right. We seem to be heading for it. I doubt if any party will have an absolute majority."
"But the Congress will form the government?"
"Well, yes, most likely. After all, who else is there."
"How many votes do you think it will put in?"
"It is difficult to say. In Maharastra, I think it is out."
"I am talking of the overall national situation."
"Ah, you are. Well, there you are."
"I think the Congress will take the help of all these small parties and form the government. It will buy votes."
"I am inclined to agree with you. But then you can't say."
"You can't say or you won't say! You journalists really do not give out much. What are the BJP's prospects?"
"Good, but no very good. It wil be difficult for Vajpayee and company."
"You really think so."
"Yes and no. What do you think?"
"In the north, it may lose some of its seats. Hindutva does not carry the same appeal any more."
"Yes, Hindutva, that's passe."
"Come, come, I would not say so."
"Nor would, I except that some of its shine has gone. Situations change. Still, Hindutva will get its votes."
"What about Madhya Pradesh?"
"With a three-way split in the Congress, do you think BJP will get a stranglehold there?"
"Stranglehold, I would not know, but the BJP should improve its position there. After all, there is a three-way split in the Congress."
"Exactly what I was thinking. To what extent would Moopanar's exit affect the Congress in Tamil Nadu in particular and the south in general."
"The south holds the key to the elections."
"Would you go as far as that?'
"Well, perhaps not that far, but far enough. You know hwo the situation is over there."
"You know how - complex."
"What about the Samajwadi party?"
"That's U.P. and Bihar politics. The cowbelt. Only Mulayam and Laloo know what they are doing."
"But they are not doing anything together."
"No, no, of course not. No, no. There is also, what's it called, Bahujan Samaj to be considered."
"Yes, I wanted to ask you about that."
"There is not much to say on that, is there! Fly by nights."
"I am surprised you are dismissing it like that, but you should be knowing."
"I don't want to dismiss anybody but there is that."
"True. And thanks for talking to me. I have always maintained, the presswallas know everything."