A random mail in my inbox said a Chennai-based astrologer had accurately predicted the fate of MH370. Among his other predictions, the one that caught the eye was: “BJP will get over 200 but less than 272. With parties (mainly led by women) NDA will get 286 seats.” Significantly, at the moment the NDA has significant no significant woman-headed party.

You don’t need astrological skills to fathom that an NDA falling short of 272 will reach out to the three powerful ladies – AIADMK’s J.Jayalalithaa, Trinamul Congress’s Mamata Banerjee and Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mayawati. The NDTV survey gives Mamata 32 seats, Jaya 27 and Mayawati 15 seats.

But there are chances of the AIADMK getting a few more of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu, if a few factors go in her favour.

Amma on the upswing

One pertains to the Stalin-Azhagiri war in the DMK, which threatens to plunge the party to its nadir. The other to the BJP’s impressive alliance with the PMK, DMDK and MDMK failing to deliver too many seats.

If that happens, Jayalalithaa, whose current regime is free of major hiccups or controversies, and has pushed through smart people-oriented schemes such as Amma’s canteens, moderately priced bottled water and loads of freebies, may pick up 30-32 seats.

Also, initial indicators from Western UP suggest that the angry Muslims of the region, scalded by the Akhilesh government’s inept response to Muzaffarabad atrocities, are likely to turn to the BSP’s Behenji for solace. It remains to be seen what signals emanate from the neighbouring Deobandh seminary. Its chief Mahmood Madani has already warned the Congress not to frighten Muslims using the “Modi bogey”. So if a good number of UP’s Muslims lend patronage to Mayawati, she could get 20 seats as in 2009, if not more.

Simple math puts the three Indian political divas’ total seat tally at 80 or more.

Post elections, in case of a hung parliament, Amma will be the easiest ally to get for the NDA but the most difficult to handle. Her long friendship with Modi is no secret.

Didi’s clout

Mamata Didi could get 30 plus seats in West Bengal given the Left’s poor standing there. She might spew venom on Modi and the BJP now, but has been an NDA bedfellow in the Vajpayee era. Mayawati has had past alliances with the BJP, the most infamous being the revolving chief minister deal between the two parties in UP in the 1990s. Mayawati, naturally, took the first shy at the CM’s kursi, and pulled the rug when it was time to vacate it.

But each of these three women is mercurial, runs her party with an iron hand, and has tortured past allies. And each harbours PM ambitions. If a Modi-led government does get sworn in with their support, it’ll be interesting to see how he works his charm around these powerful regional players.

(This article was published on March 26, 2014)
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