By Aditya Aamir
This summer – April-May-June – will sizzle. Not as much as last year or the year before. But average temperatures in most parts of the country will be ‘above normal’, says the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD). There is a silver lining, though: temperatures in east, east-central and southern India are likely to be “lower than the usual” – indication that the otherwise notoriously wayward Monsoon will be punctual this year. To that, let’s keep in mind that the weatherman is no less unreliable. He wears a mean watch; and, like the politician, promises too much.
Add to the summer the additional heat of the Karnataka and other assembly elections and it will be extra hot for political parties. The BJP-led NDA, especially, will feel the heat if it fails to get the cool numbers it needs to oust the Siddaramaiah government. One more religion under the Karnataka sun has already raised political temperatures. And Amit Shah looks like he has lost weight. The BJP president will have to roll-up his sleeves and sweat it out for the 40-42 days left to polls.
Not that the Congress party will find it cool going. Siddaramaiah is sweating under the weight of anti-incumbency fatigue and it doesn’t help that Congress President Rahul Gandhi is more than capable of unwittingly landing the Congress in hot waters. Also, with the name-change, Bengaluru is not the erstwhile Bangalore with a steady year-round fair weather. India’s Silicon Valley is no longer the cool state-capital. It’s hot under the collar of political expectations.
Politics is like that, easily swayed in the absence of a wave. The undercurrents are always warm but they can deceive coming up. Right now, there’s a feeling that the Congress is well and coolly ahead. It may not be so on Election Day – May 12. And Counting Day (May 15) can tilt at the windmill, turn predictions on their heads.
Return to IMD predictions and temperatures in Odisha, coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana – three states the Sun God keeps a special eye on – are likely to be lower than usual. In fact, Odisha has the Unesco World Heritage site Sun Temple in Konark to prove the status right. Severe heat-wave conditions in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have killed thousands of people in recent years. Data show that between 2013 and 2017, as many as 4,624 died in heat waves – 92% of them in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
With Andhra Pradesh just beginning to warm-up for a fight for special-state status, April-May-June will simmer. TV news channels will do themselves a favour if they give a special summer allowance to reporters in AP, Telangana and Odisha. Besides, of course, sun umbrellas and sun hats. And lots of bottled water to irrigate dry talkative throats. Media besides doing raucous reporting also has to report the Celsius of sunrays. And if the monsoon is on time, there is no gainsaying how much of politics will be affected: Every vote cast in the assembly elections will either point the weathercock toward change or status quo.
Year 2016 was the hottest year since 1901. Phalodi in Rajasthan recorded 51 degrees Celsius. And a recent Rajasthan Patrika survey of over 45,000 people conducted across Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh predicts that voters in all three states will bid goodbye to the BJP in this year’s assembly elections. The Modi-Shah election juggernaut will hotly dispute that claim but recent by-election results in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh are headwinds that point to a political-climate pushback in Rajasthan and MP. And Chhattisgarh may remain cool to Dr Raman Singh this year.
The IMD issued a forecast on February 28. And then after the mercury rocketed to 40 degrees Celsius in parts of India, including in Delhi, issued another in March. IMD Director-General K J Ramesh says thunderstorms in east, east-central and southern India will keep these parts cooler. “This is also an indication that the onset of monsoon will be on time,” says M Rajeevan, secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences. “Usually, there are three-four heat-waves every year. This year, we expect no change.”
He cannot say that for sure as regards political climate change. Weather-wise, central and northern India are generally considered core heat-wave zones. And with the assembly elections lined up for this year in these regions, besides the big one for next year, the political climate will either remain the same or see a sea-change. (IPA Service)