So here is the paradox of our times. Read the business pages, and there is a fair chance that you will get the impression of a Narendra Modi government on the ropes and an economy in serious trouble. Then, read the political pages and find that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) juggernaut is marching from one electoral success to another.
A curious election littered with many firsts is taking place in Maharashtra. A 49 year old Brahmin from Nagpur appears set to be re-elected for a second five year term in a Maratha-dominated polity. A 29 year old member of the Thackeray family is actually contesting an election. The BJP has pushed the original sons of the soil regional force, Shiv Sena to a secondary position in its long-standing alliance. The ageing Sharad Pawar, Maharashtra's tallest leader over nearly half a century, is fighting hard to keep his family, leave aside his party, together.
There are moments in life which touch the soul almost unknowingly. Over the weekend, I was in Mumbai for my book promotional tour. The venue was Crossword book store at Kemps Corner, a wonderful place for bibliophiles in the heart of South Mumbai. I spent an hour talking and taking questions on my book. It was hugely energising to sit amidst book lovers.
We live in a world of 140 characters; where twitter is the new conversation, where attention spans are often reduced to a nano-second, where a 15 second soundbite is seen to be a substitute for a profound observation, where 'Hell Yeah' trends for days! In this age, is there space for a 135,000 word, 350 page book?
Political judgements based on opinion polls are hazardous at the best of times, but when there is a five-cornered fight like in Maharashtra, pollsters are often whistling in the dark. There were almost 50 constituencies in Maharashtra in 2009 where the margin was less than 5,000 votes, making any conclusive poll prediction a nightmare. And yet, let me stick my neck out on my home state: The BJP will be almost certainly the single-largest party and, in fact, should get a clear majority.