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The pendulum oscillates wildly in the battle for voters' mindspace as both BJP and Congress slug it out to stay ahead amidst fresh controversies

IN THE see- saw jousting for suzerainty between a fatigued but still wily treasury and a once fractious, but now increasingly buoyant and upbeat opposition, the last word is still to be heard. Nehle pe dehla is a term often used to describe a decisive turn in a continuing exchange. Hammer of Thor is another turn of phrase which is even more emphatic because it settles the debate conclusively, but that will manifest itself only when the verdict on 2014 hustings emerges.

As Prof. James Moriarity, arch villain and Sherlock Holmes's bete noire says in Shadow of Games : Exempli gratia ( which in Latin means, ' for example') when two celestial objects collide, there is bound to be collateral damage. Agreed. It makes eminent sense to introduce this element into the narrative now.

Look at the flow of events. Like two punch drunk pugilists who have traded incessant punches and are yet to drop, the two protagonists -- Congress and BJP lurch from one crisis to another, as the pendulum oscillates rapidly. The balance of equilibrium shifting from one end to another.

MESMERISING MODI Maybe, that is why it is said that one week is too long in politics. February 6, NaMo ( Narender Modi) arrived in the capital to a choreographed production. It is a tumultuous display of power oratory at the prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce.

A lot of what he said has been said before, but the audience is brand new. The students are spellbound, they lap up everything. Media trains its cameras on NaMo and the Rajdhani is abuzz with Moditva -- from Five Fs to 3S, from P2G2 to development economics -- the juggernaut is rolling along nicely.

Modi baiters be damned, the youth and middle class want their problems fixed and Modi has the magic wand. It is celebratory, the hoi polloi love it.

AISA, the Left leaning student's body wreaks havoc outside the college premises, but who cares? Modi has announced that he is ready for his assault on Dilli. Is ' Dilli door ast ?' a question that his pulverised detractors and transfixed admirers are asking? At both ends of the vector, the big question after the virtuoso performance was clear and simple -- has Modi announced his prime ministerial candidature? The treasury benches were deflated, downcast, beguiled and bewildered by the alchemist Modi.

Then came the riposte, a stinging, stunning and lightning response. The Congress for the second time in months showed great courage and hung Afzal Guru. The wind was taken out of the BJP's sails, the fangs and teeth blunted. Soft on minorities, soft on terror all went out of the window before one could say Terror Guru. The nature of political discourse in the country had been altered decisively.

Was it the hammer of Thor? Was it a big strike? Logic said yes.

But logic doesn't wash these days.

It has a mind of its own, it is a free spirited animal.

Even as the nation delved deep into its collective psyche asking itself questions on the whys and wherefores on Afzal Guru, a new heat seeking missile was on its way.

The discourse changed again -- CBI prosecutor AK Singh was purportedly in a conversation with key 2G spectrum case accused Sanjay Chandra to ' fix' the case. As television broke the story, all hell broke loose. Banquo, sorry Raja's ghost threatened to engulf one and all. On the eve of the parliament's budget session, the chickens were coming home to roost. But, dang, wait a minute, there is still some juice left.

Even as journos got into combat fatigues to decipher the 2G code all over again, the BIG one was around the corner.

Almost blindsiding everyone, the sheer ferocity and velocity of the Finnmeccanica- Agusta Westland Italian Justice Department probe became hot button. It had all the ingredients of a cracker of a story -- payoffs, ballerinas, champagne, armaments, Indian defence agents, a former Air Force chief, money trails, intrigue, whatchamacallit? And The balance of power has once again shifted to the BJP as it grabs the bit ( chopper scam) between its teeth and runs

like the tragic tale of the gangrape victim which has been deeply embedded in the nation's consciousness, this is a tale which is not going away in a hurry. News is fluid and dynamic is what we were taught. But this dynamic and fluid news environment is a challenge by itself, a treacherous Annapurna South Face climb anyone?

OSCILLATING NEWS News is no longer static, the flow is a torrent and the sheer volume mystifies all those who cover it, fickle mistress? I remember on the morning of the Ponty shoot out, it looked like a dull as ditch water type of day. A Saturday, there was a feeling of ennui till it abruptly came to life with a start.

As the Ponty Chadha shoot out began to unravel, the magnitude and import of the events recounted, we tightened our cummerbunds to take stock.

Even as we broke down the elements furiously, news of Balasaheb's death came from Mumbai, changing the news agenda once again with great rapidity.

In this engagement between the congress and the BJP, the balance of power has once again shifted to the BJP as it grabs the bit ( chopper scam) between its teeth and runs. Excellent timing too as it gets an opportunity to corner the Congress in parliament.

TRAILS OF A SCAM Unlike the past when payoff trails have never been uncovered, the Italian police has done most of the work this time round. The investigation is remarkable as it details every single remittance. Contrast that with CBI's role as an investigating agency in defence scams in the past. On the whole, there are no convictions and that says a lot about the agency that has been run as an instrumentality of the ruling dispensation, barring the two year period under AP Singh when the Supreme Court took over the executive's role in defining the scope and size of CBI's investigation.

Once again India stands on the cusp of a gigantic defence scam, one which runs deep and touches a former Air chief.

Once again the blast from the past comes just before a crucial parliament session. Prepare for disruptions and pandemonium.

While it is advantage BJP for the moment, it depends on if this issue is taken forward, how it is articulated and how well the agenda is rammed home.

Caveat, as we have seen in the past two possibilities exist going forward -- something dramatic and diversionary alters the news agenda or the BJP shoots itself in the foot.

Delicious and pregnant with possibilities.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Feb 17, 2013
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