Surjit Bhalla is a friend. But anyone without that bias will also admit Surjit writes well, irrespective of whether you agree or disagree with him. His interest in both cricket and films, two themes every Indian is interested in, allow him to use similes/metaphors to get the reader interested. (For a very long time, Surjit’s only book was on cricket.) This book avoids cricket. However, each of the 14 chapters, and an initial Introduction, begins with lyrics from a popular Bollywood song, reflecting Surjit’s tastes in film music. The book is on Indian elections, from 1952 to 2019, and the author has himself been a forecaster, proved both wrong and right in the past: “Just two secrets—forecast often, and always remind people when you are right. If I am wrong, well, life goes on, but now with an additional barrage of kind trolls (I realise that is an oxymoron, but emphasis is needed). If right, well, we will just have to wait till the next election to go wrong.”
May 23 isn’t far away. Skipping initial chapters, what do the final chapters project for the BJP and the Congress? Forecasts are done under different sets of assumptions and there is always a range, not a specific number. For BJP, the range is 253 to 265. These are ‘objective’ estimates that mechanically follow the assumptions. Thereafter, there is a ‘most likely scenario’ that factors in some subjectivity, through judgement. In other words, the most likely estimate doesn’t have to be from within the range. For the BJP, Surjit’s forecast is 274. Likewise, for the Congress the range is 69 to 97 and the most likely number is 57.