Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Game of Votes




Netflix shows are nothing compared to real time political thrillers. I am binge watching one where the political secretary of Sonia Gandhi is fighting the maneuvers of a ruthless election machine, the BJP. Ahmed Patel. 
Never heard of him? Well, between 2004 and 2014, when madam held the remote, all buttons were pressed by Patel bhai. Need an appointment? AP. Firefighting? AP. Cabinet reshuffle? AP. Fix Amit Shah? AP.

But that was past. Cut to present.

Today Patel guy is fighting a nail-biter to retain his parliamentary seat. Initially he had 57 MLAs but after a series of defections and resignations orchestrated by his rivals (read Amit Shah), he is left with 44. And that’s the twist. The old bean has 44 but needs 45. One crucial vote. Will he, won’t he?

Never saw Patel look so tense. Almost nervous. Never saw news anchors so excited. Almost animated. 
Brimming with excitement, Arnab is calling it a prestige issue for Sonia Gandhi. I’m thinking if Arnab looks happy enough for the entire South East Asia, maybe Ahmad Patel is likely to lose. Maybe Arnab knows something we don’t. After all, he is the new Lutyens media. Jogging his vocal chords, Arnab forces his three dozen panellists to confess, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, let’s be direct today. Is it or is it not a prestige issue for Sonia Gandhi?’? Continue to fire your views at #Biggest test for Sonia.’ Like an ape on heat, jumping from his seat to the monitor, Arnab repeats, ‘Will Sonia scrape through?’ 


But there is more than prestige at stake. In an article, Rajdeep says, Amit Shah and Ahmed Patel are ‘jaani dushmans’. Shah, they say, wants revenge for what he believes is Patel’s role in jailing him in an encounter case. So this is as much personal as it is political. 
Sannu ki? But, by God it is so entertaining.

It’s 7 pm. I continue to flip channels. The EC has not even begun counting. An unverified video shows two disputed votes by Congress MLAs. Worse, one Congress guy out of 44 has cross voted. This upsets Rajdeep more than Patel. If Arnab is unable to hide his excitement, Rajdeep is unable to hide his disappointment. 
By 9 pm, when the BJP and Congress delegations approach the EC like students approach the Principal, the Congress spokesperson does a Kejriwal and disses the EC anticipating partisanship. 

In other news, around the same time, China threatens war, says they will enter Kashmir. But our news channels are like, ‘Baad mein dekhenge be! Abhi Ahmed bhai needs one vote.’ To add to the world woes, Trump says if N Korea escalates nuclear threat, it will be met with fire and fury. The world is likely to end but the more important thing is that Ahmed Patel’s fate is undecided.

Meanwhile, at home, my husband returns from work and says, ‘Let’s go for a walk. Care for some fresh air?’
Fresh air? When Arnab is extolling me to ‘Fire my views’ who wants fresh air?
‘ Later. Patel’s prestige is hanging by a thread.’
‘How does it matter? It’s his 5th RS term?’
‘It doesn’t. But it’s a one-ball-one-run situation.’

It’s 11pm. The house is quiet except for the buzz of the air conditioner. After some tossing and turning, I peer into my phone. Nothing. Good folks on Twitter are asking, ‘Bhai in or out?’ 
Around 11.30 pm, the Election Commission invalidates two contentious votes after PC Chidambaram’s legal acumen convinces the returning officer. Which means the overall strength of the house is reduced and Patel chap needs only 44 to win. 44, after all, is the magical Congress number. 

At this point I doze off when I realize that the maid is on a holiday and whatever the result, neither Patel nor Shah will help me do the dishes. 
And then, much after the stroke of midnight, The Ahmed Patel keeps his tryst with destiny. He is blessed with 43 of his own and one mystery voter. Election Commission saved our democracy but the mystery guy, probably JDUs Chotu Bhai Vasava saved Sonia’s prestige. Yo man! Likely that your  ten generations will not have to work. Or pay income tax.
Now that the two ‘Jaani Dushmans’ have reached Rajya Sabha, the episode where they face each other will make for a riveting watch. That Ahmed Patel’s desire to win the RS poll could sink Gujarat Congress deserves another season of the Game of Votes.
On the personal front, it's clear that I'm a political junkie. Who stays awake all night and wakes up with a headache for one inconsequential election?

Image Courtesy: The popscreen and The Republic

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Joy of Flying






I remember Shashi Tharoor each time I board a plane. Not because I love the way he flicks his hair but travelling 'cattle class' stirs exasperating farrago of emotions. 

Once in the plane, you grab your 36B and impatiently wait for ground clearance. I’m talking about the seat number, you pervert. There are ten planes ahead of you and the airline does its best to save fuel by not switching on the air conditioner before takeoff. You can suffocate to death in the fart and sweat soaked seats for all they care. Mind you, this is not some low cost airline but supposedly premium, all service Jet Airways – The Joy of Flying. That’s their tagline. 

If you are on a short flight, anxiety begins to play havoc with your bladder muscles. They go into an involuntary twist. The first thought that comes to mind is to rush to the nearest toilet before it gets drenched in dew drops and begins to smell of roses. As it happens, one bladder inspires other 149 bladders. Unfortunately, there is short window of release between take off and descent. As a result people queue up outside the toilet before the cabin crew distributes juice to ensure a mass bladder burst. 

For some reason, the smiling stewardess who welcomed you with a chirpy ‘good morning’ gets all snappy. I don’t get it. Minutes ago she was pumping sunshine up our bottoms and now she is clouding it with ‘why the hell are you here’ expression. What happened?

One elderly man pisses her off by occupying the toilet for eternity and then brushing past her cart. When he returns to his seat, she is reeling from the after effects of reading Half Girlfriend, “Sir, we have only one non-veg meal left, lena hai to le warna kat le.” 

Almost.

“Sir, we’ve run out of non-veg trays. You can take veg if you want.” 

The old coot gets into an argument over the meal and after much doo-doo, it turns out that the quibble was over 15 grains of black gram accompanied with three cookie sized kulchas. If I offer this to my house-help she will screw her nose, ‘Didi aap kha lo’. 

Meanwhile others who are debating whether to pee or not to pee guzzle enough juice and beer to feel the force. Just when there is a queue of dozen loaded passengers, the seat belt sign is on. 

Crew on their seats, we are about to descend. 

Difficult to say if the stewardess has ‘why can’t you do it at home’ expression or ‘Piss off’ face. She decides to unload her annoyance over all the silent ogling she's faced in her career. ‘No Sir, please return to your seat. Can’t you see the seat belt sign is on?’ 

You can almost feel the joy in her heart. Revenge. Is. Sweet.

Never seen such imploring faces – Pee-lease…uff! 


I’m enjoying all the turbulence, making notes to write a blog post, when one lady decides to break the queue and take the feminist route to the toilet, “I’m menstruating, you can’t stop me.”
Silence.
The lady gets lucky. A dozen livid men return to their seats twisting their legs in awkward ways. Sitting on my window seat, I want to ask the lady, girl to girl, why should a menstruating lady get priority over someone about to wet his pants? Or soil his shorts? 

Eventually you land, hopefully at your destination (unless the pilot takes you to Jaipur or Lucknow due to air congestion over Delhi). You decide to be patient and sit tight before the groundstaff takes ages to fix the aerobridge. Turns out, sitting is a bad idea. Because everyone is standing and 149 booties are at your nose level. Direct transfer. 

We are the last to leave, but I now know why pee-ople itch to get out. Once at the airport, I find a sparkling clean toilet and I’m so happy, I could cry. Happiness, after all, is finding a place to go when you really gotta go. 
That’s the real joy. Not the joy of flying.

Apologies for messing your morning with this un-pee-leasant post.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Death by Buffet





Just when I was about to say cheers to lost weight, a 3N/4D vacation ensured that I found more than I lost - the weight that is. Amazing, rather exasperating, how a short outing can tilt scales in ways you never imagined.

After a long flight, you take a quick shower and saunter into the hotel restaurant to occupy the window seat overlooking the sun-kissed mountains. At a time when you are normally tending the door, waiting for the maid, packing lunch and ordering groceries, this is heaven. Never relaxed so much at breakfast time and you are so happy that you could cry. You soak in the atmosphere and fetch up to take a look at what’s on offer. Most buffet spreads are an assortment of Indian, Mediterranean and Continental delicacies served to challenge your midriff. For reasons unknown, even the oatmeal and sugar free porridge which seem puke-worthy at home invite you with healthy hush – come savor me. The boiled eggs and omelette you find mundane back home begin to croon, ‘Is it me you are looking for’. The stuffed paranthas look at you in all their oily glory and hum softly, 'pick me baby one more time'. The wide arrays of chutneys next to steaming idlis wink at you. The aroma from baked beans and grilled potatoes sautéed with parsely nudges you – try me. The cold cuts beckon, the stir fried veggies whisper, 'Sweetie, we have it all - carotenes, free radicals, fibre, try us no?' The little gateaux’s begin to waltz around your nose even as the creamy fondant plays hide and seek from behind the slim, crisp, hot and curvy jalebis melting you to mush. Yes, jalebis, miles away from home. 

When you are debating difficult choices, the steward approaches, “Should I toast brown bread or multigrain bread for you?” You look so profound and thoughtful as if you are attending the G20 summit and wondering whether to vote in favour of the climate deal or go the Trump way. Back home, your toaster is a breeding ground for cockroaches but toasting, popping and smothering bread with dollops of butter is suddenly comforting. Almost calming. You are tempted to try every brownie, bun and bread with jams and marmalades of every flavour. 

There are other multiple choice dilemmas, ‘Mam watermelon, mixed or orange juice? Sparkling, mineral or regular water? Green, regular or masala tea?’ You are tempted to make the most because eventually you are destined to fall back in the arms of muesli and cold milk. But you summon all the self-control at your disposal and count backwards. 10, 9, 8… 

The steward hovers around your table with an assortment of maple syrup coated pancakes and juiciest falafel in town, here try some, we’ve used herbs from our garden and you won’t get this anywhere. 
There is laughter in the air, the beautiful couple next to you is relishing their scrambled eggs, their kids are jumping like dolphins and everyone’s so excited that you surrender. 
Given that breakfasts are included in your room rent, you decide to land a delicious kick on the hotel’s rear by recovering every penny.

After all, what is one day of cheating? 

The following day is worse. You head out for a long drive, you are not sure if you’ll stop for lunch so you stuff enough to last for dinner. Eventually, you have lunch, snacks, beer, dinner. The last day is the worst. You are about to check-out, you haven’t vasoolo-ed the room rent and the next vacation is a tiny blip on the radar. So you say, what the heck, I will shed the darn kilos again. Then the three day buffet breakfast takes three months to leave your midriff, if at all. But that’s what life is – diet, work, save, travel, repeat. Even if it means death by buffet.





Monday, June 19, 2017

The Filmy Factor





If you haven’t watched many movies during your growing-up years, whatever little you saw remains special, right? I’m sure this happens to you. There you are watching an old movie and suddenly - wham, you are transported back in time. Like food and scents, movies make sure something or the other jangles your memory cells. It could be anything. Like a movie on your sixteenth birthday. A movie after board exams is equally memorable. As is a movie with mushy ‘corner seat’ memories. 

As I rewind my cinematic reel, my first literal ROFL moment was while watching Jaane Bhi Do Yaron on our Beltek television. The story of two bumbling journalists from Beauty Photo Studio remains a memorable black comedy. The recent flyover collapse in Kolkatta was a reminder that when it comes to builder-babu nexus, little has changed. Who can forget the scene where a tipsy Om Puri drags the casket of a dead D’Mello, or when Om Puri mumbles in his Punjabi laced Hindi, “Oye Draupadi Teri Akele Ki Nahin Hain, Hum Sab Shareholders Hain”. Unlike the quintessential ‘dishoom dishoom’ culmination, JBDY climax was a classic Mahabharata and Ramayana cocktail with a dash of Akbar. Served with great comic book flair, “This is too much. Ye Akbar Kahan Se Aa Gaya?” was epic.


Then there was Masoom. Our parents probably heard, ‘Lakdi Ki Kaathi’ song and imagined that Masoom was perfect kiddy watch. Moreover, the little girl who played Naseer and Shabana’s youngest daughter was a family friend from Kanpur. Clueless about the infidelity angle, I hated Shabana for refusing to accept Jugal Hansraj. His blue eyes, a tapestry of torment and pools of grief made me miserable. When thick streaks began rolling down during ‘Tujhse Naraaj Nahi, Hairan Hoon Zindagi’ dad took me out for an ice cream. Downright silly, but for some reason I haven’t forgiven Shabana till date. Such was the Masoom impact that Shabana’s wronged wife act in Arth did nothing to salvage her image for a long time.


Silsila (1981) remains memorable for my first mother-daughter tiff. It was my birthday and instead of allowing me to celebrate with friends, mother insisted we watch a movie. Those days, my mother was a big fan of Rekha, while my righteous teen angst saw Rekha as a home breaker. In an interview to Stardust Rekha had said that she saw Jaya shed tears from the projection room during a love scene between Rekha and Amitabh during a trial show. Both Filmfare and Stardust were abuzz about how Yash Chopra had managed coup in bringing the two women together in the epic confrontation scene. It was also Bollywood's first foray into Netherlands and tulip gardens.

Growing up in a small town, there was a lot of talk in school about Dimple and Anil Kapoor making out in a stable in Jaanbaaz. When the VCR guy sneakily delivered the Jaanbaaz cassette, the print was poor and visuals sketchy. During the much hyped ‘Jaanejaana’ song, all I saw was Anil Kapoor winking at his pet horse, the horse grinning back and Dimple exposing her tantalizing long legs in a huge pile of hay stack. A step ahead from two flowers, the scene was pretty chaste, though sensuous given the times. Dimple brings me to Saagar where I sat happily sandwiched between school friends waiting for Dimple to drop that towel. Disappointment again, for we saw nothing except a glorious sunset.

Given that there was no getting away from tight home reigns, Qayamat Se Qyamat Tak remains etched for most of us in school and college. ‘Papa Kehte Hain’ was a rage – it had become a metaphor for our age and emotions. This was also a time when Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik had created magic with their fresh vocals. While on our annual summer trip to Mussoorie, ‘Ghazab Ka Hai Din’ playing on the car stereo made me see the hills in a new light. So in Mussoorie, I unconsciously veered in Juhi’s Rashmi mode – two plaits, coy looks and chirpy talk. Needless to add that the boys on the Mall Road appeared in Aamir’s Raj mode – Akele Hain To Kya Gham Hai.

Then there was Mr India, which I remember for reasons other than Sridevi’s sky blue sari minus an underskirt. Those days, balcony in single screen theatres was expected to have decent crowd and the seats weren’t numbered. And yet, a group of boys were throwing peanuts over our heads. When a match stick landed in my lap, a big fight ensued. Dad called the manager, the screening was halted and louts evicted.

Moving one, there were others like Arth, Mirch Masaala, Bazaar, Golmaal and Khoobsoorat, but I don’t remember them for anything other than their cinematic appeal. As memories come flooding, one post won’t do justice to all the drama associated with films. Losing house keys during Amar Akbar Anthony, running to the loo (upset tummy) during Sharaabi and buying tickets in black for Karz remain memorable. Remember ‘paanch ka dus, dus ka tees’ touts promising corner seats? 

In today’s age of multiplex, we will perhaps remember movies for different reasons. It could be a bomb scare when the entire hall was evacuated. Not finding parking, getting stuck in the mother of all jams and missing the movie could be equally memorable. Ditto for being harassed by a traffic cop after movies. 



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Bottoms Up




Imagine Mumbai without Vada Pav and Berry Pulav. Chennai without steaming idlis and filter coffee. Or Delhi without butter chicken and Old Monk. We know what happened to Lucknow without Tunday Kebabs, right? Likewise, Gurgaon is all about fresh beer. Beer is so integral to Gurgaon that we would rather be called Beergram instead of Gurugram. Don’t believe me? Hop on, and I will tell you about our ‘beer necessities’.

For starters, we in Gurgaon survive dust storms, civic apathy, extreme weather and traffic jams just by being Beer Happy. With pubs in every nook and corner, fresh breweries are our very own Aggarwal Sweet House. Our Mavalli Tiffin Room (MTR). Our Sarvanna Bhawan. But with fancy names like the UpTown, Striker, Manhattan, Vapour, Open Tap, Prankster, Walking Street…...the list is endless.

With beer flowing in our veins, we are Budweiser than others. Because we know our beer more than Gordon Ramsay knows his food. Which is why, the way to our heart is to engage us over the charms of chilled beer. Just so you know, we in Beergaon, don’t believe in soups. Chilled beer is soup for our corporate souls.

Don’t judge us. We wish each other a ‘Happy Beerthday’ and a ‘Berry Happy Mother’s Day’, simply by visiting the nearest brewery. Most pubs are an ode to originality with loud music, dim lights, giant screens and framed pictures that proclaim ‘Life and Beer are same – Chill for best results’. You visit one and you will have a feeling of ‘Deja Brew’. If you are a visitor on a Friday evening, don’t have ‘high hops’ because despite 5436 breweries in town, you won’t find a table. In case you manage to grab a bar stool, it’s time to ask the attendant, “What’s up brew?” Then you burst into cheers when he presents you with an array of tasters ranging from Apple Cider, Fresh German, Peach Ginger, Melomel or Belgian Wit. You taste them with such seriousness as if you are about to vote for a permanent security council seat at the UN, which is a lot of crap because after one pitcher, you don’t really know which one you are drinking. Then you place your order to show off your bladder capability – a glass, a mug, a pitcher or the entire beer tower. Care for some fun? Ask the guy with gallons of beer in his prized beer tower to drink 8 glasses of water instead. Capture his expression. Priceless.

So, it was all berry good until the highest court of the land played party pooper. The new law about keeping liquor vends away from highways made it ‘un-beerable’ for Beergram. Just when we thought we were at a ‘pint of no return’, excise officers, traffic police, NHAI and PWD got busy with ‘Jugaad’ to ensure that Gurgaon is up and bubbly again. With such supremely honest departments working in tandem, I’m sure Gurgaon will finally raise the ‘bar’. 

The verdict is to be pronounced any day. And soon we will indulge in our ‘unstopub-able’ past-time. Hello? After slogging for long hours and surviving ‘beer pressure’ as corporate donkeys, is it any surprise that we look forward to our happy hours? Common people, with temperature flirting with 45 degrees, you can’t grudge us our daily beer. Remem-beer, that's how we are. ‘Lager’ than life. Hopefully, life will be ‘Brewtiful’ again.
 Beergram can barely fight back its cheers.



Thursday, March 30, 2017

Battle of Legs?



Every once in a while, an incident washes up our shores where the dominant social order reflects in our social behaviour. Recently when the British PM, Theresa May met Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon, the front page of Daily Mail read ‘Never mind Brexit, who won Legs-it’. It didn’t take long for the media to swerve in the familiar path of misogyny. The focus was on their nude stockings, red nail paint, pointed stilettos and crossed legs. The paper indulged in an ogling spree, calling them the finest weapons at their physical arsenal. 

‘Finest weapons at their command? Those pins!’

The article referred to one pair of legs as ‘long extremities, demurely arranged’ and the other pair as ‘flirty, tantalizingly crossed….a direct attempt at seduction.’ Poor Theresa and Nicola! They had to use their legs instead of brains to resolve the complicated Brexit issue. Yes, Theresa May has legs. So did Tony Blair. Even Obama. Trump has legs too.

Let’s play fair. The article was written by Sarah Vine, a woman journalist who defended by saying it was a ‘fun piece’. If David Cameron can be mocked for looking portly, why cry ‘sexism’ when the shoe is on the other foot? Equality, after all, cuts both ways, she asked.
Well, the columnist has her right to pen a ‘fun piece’ and indulge in what she finds funny. And some scrutiny of public figures is natural, even expected and overlooked. But I doubt if the paper would joke about David Cameron’s paunch or a receding hairline on the front page featuring a strategic meeting. This is not to wish that Cameron should have been treated the same way but the fact that he wasn’t smacks of duplicity.

Anyway, this is not the first. In keeping with the double standards, the US Presidential campaign was a text book case of misogyny. Little surprise that during the campaign, top sellers included misogynist goodies with lines like, ‘Hillary will go down faster than Bill’s pants. Trump that Bitch. Good Luck Hillary, don’t blow the job.’ In addition to that, cable news made jokes about how Hillary’s voice made men cross their legs. And what’s more, Reddit groups repeatedly laughed about Clinton supporters voting with their vaginas. Flip the coin and wonder what Trump supporters voted with, eh? 

It’s an unending series. I remember when French girl, Marion Bartoli climbed through the crowds to hug her father after winning the title, a Radio 5 live commentator thought it was the right moment to say, “Do you think Bartoli’s dad told her when she was little, ‘you are never going to be a looker, you’ll never be a Sharapova, so you have to be scrappy and fight’?” Rather nauseatingly, the commentator didn’t have anything to say about Andy Murray’s face, but he was deeply disturbed by Bartoli’s looks. As it happens, social media took it a step ahead. A blogger taunted, calling Bartoli ‘too ugly to rape’. Suddenly her accomplishment paled in comparison to her appearance.
The sub-text was obvious. Sexism. 

It was same old ditty, albeit with different lyrics when Serena Williams won a title. She was body shamed for showing her nipples. In fact a twitter poll asked how many saw Serena get 'hard' while playing and 71% responded in the affirmative.
 Whether it’s Serena Williams, Sania Mirza or Smriti Irani, every time a powerful woman makes a point, it disturbs the dominant social order. Rather inadvertently, successful women get shamed socially in order to keep them in their ‘place’. And hell hath no fury, if a woman achiever like Kangana Ranaut asserts herself. Then she’s playing a ‘woman’s card’. Bring on her periods, her past affairs and tell her to leave the kitchen if she can’t face the heat. 

All said, it’s a fact that women are judged for their appearances. Both, by men and women. It’s so deep seated that we don’t even realize how it becomes a part of our psyche. More often than not, each time a woman achiever asserts her position, the dominant social order comes into play by pronouncing judgment. Sometimes in the name of safe-guarding community interests. Sometimes in the name of making jokes. And sometimes in the name of free speech. Excellence, as Oprah says, is the best deterrent. 

Photo Courtesy: Guardian News

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

UPswinger by Modi






Elections in India are quite like playing cricket, and quite as unpredictable. Winning a state requires a distinct strategy that is not facsimile of another when it comes to reading the pitch, planning a strategy, fielding the players and selecting a captain. It’s a team effort. 

With four wins in five state electoral matches, Captain Modi established his pole position in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Uttarakhand. His triple century against main rivals, Samajwadi Party, Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party was seen as a resounding ‘Modi wave’ that swept the Hindi heartland. Barring one loss in Punjab to the Congress led Captain Amrinder Singh, the BJP also managed to steal a last over victory by outmaneuvering rivals in Goa and Manipur. With an incredible win of over 406 of the 690 seats on offer, they can now hope to win 2019 National Cup under the hawk eyed guidance of coach Amit Shah. 

Match Strategy

In UP, they say, people don’t cast their votes, they vote their caste. But if this was entirely true, Dalit centric Bahujan Samaj Party and Jat centric Rashtriya Lok Dal would not stare at political obsolescence. Which brings us to the moot question: emerging from a defeat in Bihar and Delhi and the aftermath of demonetization googly, how did Narendra Modi register such a spectacular sweep? 

What the media did not tell us was being planned for over more than a year by the coach, Amit Shah. There was organisational restructuring, an offer of primary BJP membership to potential workers, youth mobilisation,  canny ticket distribution and effective use of social media including more than ten thousand WhatsApp groups. The net practice under the Hindutva umbrella included hundreds of nukkad meetings (street plays), parivartan yatras, youth conferences, Swabhiman conferences (for SC/ST), traders meetings, motorcycle rallies and Kamal Melas.

The speedy implementation of welfare schemes like Ujjawala which aimed at providing free LPG connection to 5 crore BPL households, Jan Dhan accounts, insurance at a premium as low as Rs 12, promises of farm loan waiver and interest free loans struck a chord with rural voters. The overall strategy was to woo the middle class by development and the poor by financial inclusion. Poverty, after all, has no caste or religion. 

Finally, demonetisation and surgical strikes portrayed PM Modi as a decisive captain who was playing aggressively against corruption. The jury is out on the merits of demonetization, but politics is all about perception. When people feel that their leader is fighting for them, data and numbers are rendered useless. While PM Modi was seen as a visionary who played risky shots, the fragmented opposition came across as defensive team of opportunistic players. 

Why Rival Teams Were Stumped

In all fairness, it is easy to be wise after an event, or a match. Truth is, no political observer could envisage this TsuNaMo in the absence of a Chief Minister’s face. As for Akhilesh Yadav, anti-incumbency, deteriorating law and order, fast turning UP wicket, in-fighting between his team players and running between the wickets with a tentative Rahul Gandhi ensured that SP was on the back foot. You can not sing '27 Saal UP Behaal' one day and 'UP Ko Ye Saath Pasand Hai,' the following day.  People are not idiots. As for Behenji, with her traditional Dalit vote bank deserting her, Mayawati was stumped by the EVMs – the educated voting middle class.

We all know that if team Congress wants to contest the 2019 Cup, they have to re-invent, strategize, and look for captains who play shots according to incoming balls and not anti-Modi shots on every ball. As Ricky Ponting says, “Every batsman surveys the field before taking the strike and the fielders get imprinted on his mind. But in my head, I only see the gaps.” The Congress Party has to look for those gaps. Renting causes, jumping from one campus to another and disrupting matches is unlikely to register wins. Taking a cheeky run, the Congress Cricket Club is looking like an old bra – no cups and hardly any support.😉

As for AAP, a much hyped team in this series turned out to be a damp squib. In their hurry to go pan-India, AAPs attempts to win Punjab fizzled out with Bhagwant Mann out on a duck and a team collapse in Goa. The silver lining for a relatively young AAP is that they managed enough seats to sit as the main opposition in the Punjab state assembly. 
Despite all the euphoria over the Captain Modi’s knock, it cannot be denied that anti-incumbency provided a tail wind to the UPswing. The truth is that anti-incumbency cuts both ways. If SP was at the receiving end in UP, it was Akali Dal-BJP in Punjab and in Goa.

Matches Ahead

After his 4-5 sweep, striking a note of inclusiveness, Captain Modi said that the five states win would lay the foundation of a new India by 2022. But a week later, the appointment of Yogi Adityanath, a hardliner UP CM surprised many who cheered for team Modi’s development agenda. Little surprise that Modi’s message of ‘Sabka saath, Sabka Vikas’ was overshadowed by overt Hindutva push. One hopes that all sections of society will represent team UP and that development, not polarisation shall remain the driving force.

On the political pitch, the UPswinger will provide Modi the courage to go for some unpalatable reforms, roll out the GST and perhaps bat for Uniform Civil Code. The increase in Rajya Sabha numbers will brighten their chances of choosing their ICC Chairman, I mean, the President of India. 
Even though it is likely that the BJP will add more states in its kitty, it would be premature to grant them the 2019 Cup. Jobless growth, education and health in shambles, and a sluggish economy are huge challenges. While inflation and corruption are in control, government policies have failed to provide employment. If villages are facing rural distress, cities are facing large scale lay-offs. The global environment is not helping either. 

Regardles, the opposition teams might go for all-except-BJP teams pan India. Given that most batsmen from challenging teams are facing serious injuries, Modi is likely to lift the 2019 Cup. Moreover, its not Modi they have to defeat, its the people they have to win. Win people to win elections.
But like cricket, the only thing predictable in elections is the unpredictability. The matches are more than hundred weeks away. And a week, they say, is a long time in politics.