Poll notes of a limo liberal

If you laugh at parachute reporters, what would you call a genuinely motley gang of psephologists, investment bankers, editors, columnists and television anchors—even an editor-turned-anchor-turned MP — in three stretch Volvos traversing Rajasthan in the last leg of the election campaign? We obviously had the wisdom of so many pre-election surveys at the back of our minds. All the major ones gave the state to the Congress and, sure enough, the Congressmen we met en route were sure they were right. This state, they said, was already in the bag. Then we found Sudhanshu Mittal, the biggest of Pramod Mahajan’s backroom boys—or the chief of his so-called laptop gang—over an elegant dinner at The Oberoi’s seven-star Raj Vilas.

All the spin doctor’s men

For BJP general secretary Pramod Mahajan, the Rajasthan elections are a road to political rehabilitation. In January, the snappily dressed, inky-haired, cellphone-decorated Mahajan left his ministerial portfolio and was sent back to party trenches. He was placed in charge of Rajasthan. Just as Law minister Arun Jaitley has been given responsibility of steering Uma Bharati to victory, it is Mahajan’s task to ensure that Vasundhara Raje defeats Ashok Gehlot. Thus the Rajasthan elections are a test for the Pramod Mahajan brand of political management.