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Hyderabad Blues
There are so many opinion polls doing the rounds these days that one feels dizzy just catching up...
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Poll Predictions 

There are so many opinion polls doing the rounds these days that one feels dizzy just catching up. An AC Nielsen survey released by a Telugu TV channel gives YSR Congress a clear lead over the Telugu Desam in Seemandhra. The YSR Congress is set to bag between 129-133 Assembly seats in Seemandhra and the Telugu Desam a mere 42-46, states the survey. 

Telangana on the other hand is headed for a hung Assembly if the Nielsen poll is close to the mark. It shows Congress in second place and winning between 46-52 seats and the TRS between 51-57 seats. The TRS is likely to win around 6-8 Lok Sabha seats while the Congress would have 7-9 in its kitty. 

The other players in Telangana Assembly are MIM (7-8), BJP (5-8), TD (4-6), YSRC (1-3), Others (7-10). So if the TRS rules out a pact with the Congress, who are its most likely allies, the MIM can be counted as one and maybe the YSR Congress if Jaganmohan Reddy is in a benevolent mood. It is after all election time and the photo op of KCR's family with Congress president Sonia Gandhi is all but forgotten. KCR needs to make a few friends quickly if he were to cobble together enough seats to form a government. 

More so, according to the Nielsen poll, the YSR Congress will also get a chunk of the Lok Sabha seats, around 19-21 and the TDP, between 4 and 6. Many TDP leaders who have been saying that the party is headed for a revival would be disappointed on hearing these figures. One TDP MLA says that the party is more likely to bag between 70 and 75 seats and that this survey is wrong. Others, like political analyst Telkapalli Ravi, feel that TD supremo Chandrababu Naidu has only made a comeback in the columns of newspapers, say this might indeed be a realistic picture.

However, after the above was written, but before it could be put up, comes another survey, this one by CNN-IBN-CSDS-Lokniti election tracker and seat projections by Chennai Mathematical Institute Director Rajeeva Karandikar. This one shows the TDP taking a slight lead over the YSR Congress and emerging victorious in 13-19 while Jagan's party may bag 9-15 seats with the TRS ending up with 4-8. Estimates for the entire state (undivided) give the TDP 29 per cent and the YSR Congress 21 per cent votes. The Congress is expected to get 18 per cent, the TRS 13 per cent, the BJP 8 per cent, AAP 1 per cent and the others 10 per cent votes respectively.

As per the CNN-IBN-CSDS-Lokniti election tracker, in Telangana, the Congress is likely to get 35 per cent votes and the TRS is expected to get 34 per cent votes respectively. The BJP is likely to get 10 per cent, the TDP 13 per cent and the others 8 per cent votes respectively. In Seemandhra (Andhra Pradesh), according to the CSDS poll, the TDP seems to have taken a lead over the YSR Congress. The YSR Congress is projected to get 33 per cent votes and the TDP is likely to get 39 per cent of the votes. The Congress and the BJP are expected to get 7 per cent each and the others are likely to get 14 per cent of the votes in the Lok Sabha elections.

On the CNN-IBN panel, however, P. Sainath seemed to agree with Telkapalli Ravi's assessment that Chandrababu Naidu is routinely overestimated by all opinion polls and disputed the lead shown by CSDS favouring the TDP.

Goings and Comings, Deptt

Pedapalli MP G Vivekanand who quit the Congress in June, 2013 and joined the Telangana Rashtra Samiti is back to the grand old party. Several reasons are being given out by Vivek, mainly that he felt saddened by the TRS pulling out of a merger with the Congress. But many feel the real reason lies elsewhere. TRS supremo K Chandrasekhar Rao, had in speeches prior to Telangana being declared a separate state, assured that a Dalit would be the chief minister. Vivek, who belongs to the Mala community, was probably hopeful that the CM's post would land in his lap as it did with Manmohan Singh who became Prime Minister when Sonia Gandhi stepped aside on the "foreigner" issue. But when KCR categorically ruled out a merger, these dreams came crashing down. More so, KCR's legendary ego and rudeness apparently did not go down well with Vivek and his brother G Vinod, who is also a ticket aspirant. "He is sitting on the rooftop and refusing to come to earth. We had no option but to quit," Vivek reportedly told his supporters. 

Time for a Break

It is very difficult for an actor to forget his days of stardom. Same goes with union minister K. Chiranjeevi. When asked recently about the Congress being in the doldrums, Chiranjeevi remarked that the situation reminded him of a time in his career when he had a series of flops in a row. "I took a six-month break after that to analyse my career and look within. After that, when I started doing films again, I was rolling out one hit after the other," says Chiranjeevi. "Similarly," he remarks, "the Congress will see golden days again. This is just a break in between." Someone needs to tell Chiranjeevi that it would take a lot of greasepaint to make the Congress look appealing to the voters of residuary Andhra Pradesh today.

The Other Stars

Ugadi, celebrated as new year's day by Telugus, fell on March 31. Astrologers all over the place fell over themselves to appear in TV studios and speak their mind on the future of political leaders. Many of course predict Narendra Modi's rise and his elevation to the prime ministerial post. In Seemandhra, they say that it is Jaganmohan Reddy’s stars which are shining the brightest. And in Telangana, the astro gurus say, KCR is most likely to form a government despite a neck and neck race between the TRS and Congress. The period between July, 2014 and October, 2014 is likely to be bad for the security of the nation and might see some attacks on prominent politicians, they say. As for fees, astrologers are said to charge up to Rs 50,000 from politicians for basic predictions. The solutions and puja and gemstones are of course extra. 

A Royal Mess

With elections a month away, the state under governor's rule, civic maintenance in Hyderabad, has touched an all-time low. The ever-shrinking lakes, especially Hussainsagar are a merry stink, roads are full of potholes and there's garbage piling up everywhere. This is not to mention the power cuts and shortage of municipal water supply. This is one reason that many people in Hyderabad, especially quite a few industrialists, feel that TDP president Chandrababu Naidu would be the right man to be Chief Minister. Naidu's rule saw efficient civic administration and upkeep of infrastructure. If the astrologers and analysts are indeed right, then both Telangana and Seemandhra will see two parties in power which are generally not used to administration. The TRS has been part of the UPA government but it has never run a government on its own. Jaganmohan Reddy's YSR Congress is built on welfare principles by the late Y S Rajasekhar Reddy but it is also unused to administration. So in all, the people of both states are set for interesting times. And this summation, may one clarify, has got nothing to do with the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

Pepper Spray

Whether it has got something to do with Lagadapati Rajagopal and his pepper spray act, one does not know. But many Hyderabadi women I speak to are nowadays carrying a pepper spray can in their purses. Mom & Pop stores are displaying them in prominent places and the rates are quite reasonable, about Rs 200 for a small can. Going with the flow, I decided to buy myself a can as well. Of course, unlike a perfume, one never really gets to test a pepper spray at the store and get an idea of its intensity. But I did however use it while walking in a slightly secluded lane recently. A motorcyclist who first flashed his light right into my eyes rendering me partially blind then veered dangerously close and asked, "Punjagutta kidhar hai?" The fact that we were standing right there in Punjagutta and his alcohol breath made me reach out for my shiny bottle and give him a generous dose of the much-famed spray. The impact was brilliant. The motorcyclist toppled over like a mosquito when faced with some pesticide. In the meantime, a traffic cop took charge and took the pest away to acquaint him with the Punjagutta police station. Just a tip, cover your own face before unleashing the spray on offending eve-teasers. The pungent odour is something no Indian tadka can match.

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