The election mantra - charm the gods, then the votersNovember 12th, 2008 - 11:53 am ICT by IANS
New Delhi, Nov 12 (IANS) Not unlike Arjuna who gazed down at a reflected image while shooting a fish above, India’s politicians are looking to the heavens while keeping a fixed eye on the target ahead — the ballot box.And they are using every ruse in the book — charms, sacred threads, stones and, of course, multiple visits to the friendly neighbourhood astrologer — in the hope of charming the gods into letting them win the elections.
With only two days to go before the “mini election” begins — Chhattisgarh goes to the polls on Nov 14 followed by Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Mizoram, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir — politicians of all hues are flocking to astrologers, family priests, gemologists, tarot card readers and what have you to appease the gods.
From the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani, who always takes advice from a Jharkhand-based astrologer, to the councillor hoping to turn a legislator in Delhi, everyone is making a beeline for the intermediaries to the gods.
The parties are not taking any major decision either without consulting on the right time and date to make announcements or launch programmes. The BJP, for instance, put its first list of candidates for Rajasthan on the propitious date of Nov 9 on the recommendation of an astrologer.
“Election times in general are busy for us. And more so now when six states are going for assembly elections,” said the popular Bangalore-based corporate astrologer Daivagnya Somayaji, who is so much in demand that he is visiting all poll-bound states to meet his clients.
“I have been quite busy meeting and predicting poll fortunes of several politicians from various political parties,” Somayaji, who is regularly consulted by Karnataka’s first BJP Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, told IANS.
Vastu expert and astrologer Niranjan Babu B declined to divulge names but said: “Many a politician from various political parties have contacted me to know about their fortunes for the coming assembly elections in six states.”
While most politicians are also chary, some have no hesitation in admitting that they do consult astrologers. Like BJP’s Delhi legislator Sushil Choudhary, who filed his nomination papers only after a green signal from two of his favourite priests and meticulously follows what they say.
His faith increased when in 2003 he sought their advice and won.
At the other end of the political spectrum, Delhi state Congress president J.P. Aggarwal said he always conferred with his family priest Harish Sharma about the right time and day to file his nomination and start his campaign.
“My priest also tells me the time I should leave my house and reach the returning officer’s office for filing nomination,” Aggarwal told IANS, adding that this had always worked for him.
Chhattisgarh Revenue and Forest Minister Brijmohan Agrawal said candidly: “I believe in being in touch with astrologers. And most of the times you will have prior indications of good or bad times waiting for you.”
Interestingly, the superstitious streak cuts across not just political lines but also religious divides.
In Madhya Pradesh, Muslim candidates are not far behind.
Many are reciting the Quran in a single sitting in a ritual called Quran Khani. There is also Ayetah Karima Khatam, a couplet from the Quran recited 125,000 times in a single sitting, and the Surah Fateha Khatam a couplet of the Quran recited for a couple of hours.
Savita Sharma, a known Delhi astrologer, said Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and even Christian leaders visit her.
“Donation, mantras and prayers work for everyone and especially those who want to win,” she said.
Among her suggestions to those aspiring to win is donating jaggery, religious books, milk, curd, different coloured lentils and even clothes - a different colour for each day of the week.
The multi-hued advice is perhaps reflected in the eight rings with different stones that adorn the fingers of a former Congress minister in Chhattisgarh, Ganguram Baghel.
“I am in touch with ‘tantriks’ to win the election,” said 60-year-old Baghel, who is contesting from Arang in Raipur as an Independent.
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s (VHP) Delhi-based spokesperson, Vinod Bansal, said the frequent trips to astrologers were just superficial.
Bansal may be in a minority, but as far as most politicians are concerned it’s all about the stars and planetary positions.