25 lakh prize for poll prediction

By Pooja Chakrabarty

Kolkata, 15 May: Election results are on everyone’s mind, and a city-based NGO has challenged astrologers to predict the winners before poll results are declared on Saturday. The prize is a hefty Rs. 25 lakhs. The Science and Rationalists Association of India (SRAI) has put two questions to astrologers. First, to predict the exact number of seats that Congress, BJP, TMC, CPI(M), BSP, RJD, SP, DMK and AIADMK will win. Second, to determine the margin of victory or defeat for leaders like Sonia Gandhi, L.K. Advani, Mamata Banerjee, Lalu Prasad Yadav and Ram Vilas Paswan. “We can all make guesses if we do a little research and study previous trends. Yet, year after year, post-election results, we find astrologers claiming that things have turned out just as they had predicted. So this time, we are giving them time to make their forecasts. After all, astrologers always claim to know more,” says Sumitra Padmanabhan, President of SRAI. She recalls the time when astrologer Amrit Lal had foretold that Rajiv Gandhi would come to power. Gandhi was killed only a few months later. “This Rs. 25-lakh challenge is nothing new. We have a long-standing challenge to anything that supposedly cannot be explained scientifically,” Padmanabhan adds. The challenge dates back to nearly two decades when the prize money was pegged at Rs. 1.5 lakhs. “Later, Khushwant Singh joined and added Rs. 50,000 to it,” says Padmanabhan. But the current bait of Rs. 25 lakh has ensured that several astrologers have risen to the occasion. Most of them hail from Delhi and Mumbai, but Kolkata has representation from local astrologers Sree Gautam and Vrigu. With a fractured mandate almost certain, it is hard to predict Saturday's outcome. However, in a country with a population well over a billion, the chances of somebody getting it right are high. But for the rationalists at SRAI looking for another opportunity to dispel superstition and non-scientific thought, this is a risk they are willing to take. Courtesy: www.ilovekolkata.in

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