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   The distinguished political correspondent was sitting... (April 26, 1996)

The distinguished political correspondent was sitting at the press club bar. I poured two pegs of whisky in his glass, two in mine, the asked: "Who do you think will win the elctions?"

He drank his whisky in a single gulp, then said: "It is difficult to saybut the party that wins the largest number of seats will not form the government."

I quickly poured three pegs each in our glasses and said: "This is most amazing, what you say. Then who do you think will form the government?"

"The party with the second largest number of seats will form the government, but the prime minister will nto be from this party," he said.

I ordered another bottle of whisky, poured four pegs each in our respective glasses, then said: "From what you say, this is going to be a most interesting election. If the prime minister will not be from the party that forms the government, which will be the secondlargest party in parliament, then will the prime minister be from the party with the largest number of seats, which will not form the government?"

The distinguished correspondent drank his whisky in a long swallow, choked, recovered, and said: "The prime minister will be from the party that secures the third largest number of seats, which will be joining the party that has the second largest number of seats in order to form the governmetn and prevent the party with the largest quantum of seats from forming the government and harassing the minorities."

I poured six oegs if whisky in our glasses, having ordered another bottle to meet our total requirements, and said: "The mind boggles. What happens to the party that gets the fourth largest number of votes? Does it do anything or does it just sit thre in parliament and made a nuisance of itself?"

The correspondent drank his six pegs, handed me my glass so that I could finish mine fast, and said: "The party that secures the fourth largest number of seats will join the partythat gets the third largest number of seats. This will be before the party that gets the third largest number of seats joins the party that gets the second largest numbr of seats. Then the party with the third largest number of seats and the party with the fourth largest number of seats will together, as a single party but with separate indentities, assist the party with the second largest number of seats to form the government."

I ordered taller glasses, poured eight pegs in each one, and asked: "While all this is happening, what will the party wihtt he larges number of seats be doing?"

"It will be parading its members in front of the President of India, but it will not help. The President is a great upholder of the constitution," he said.

"Is all this good for democracy or bad?" I asked.

"It is neither good nor bad, it is democracy," the correspondent said."

 
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