While the Lok Sabha polls are a test for the country’s politicians, the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA) has come up with a test for astrologers to see if they can indeed predict results accurately. Responding to a challenge by FIRA, over 120 astrologers from across the country have entered a contest to predict some of the poll results. The prize money for any astrologer who accurately answers 20 questions is Rs 10 lakh.
Astrologers from Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, New Delhi, West Bengal and one even from Singapore have sent sealed envelopes containing their predictions to the FIRA. “Only 88 contestants are in the fray now since replies from the others reached us after the May 12 deadline. We did not want them use data from the exit polls,” FIRA president Narendra Nayak said.
Astrologers arrived at their predictions using methods such as face reading, horoscope interpretation, numerology, name analysis, pendulums and oil reading. “Some of them even claim to have been assisted by supernatural powers. Time will tell whether any predictions are on the mark,” Nayak said.
The 20 predictions astrologers have been asked to make include name of the next PM, the seat sharing by the newly-formed coalition, the number of seats that will be won by the BJP, Congress, TMC, BSP, SP, AIADMK, DMK, JD(S), JD(U) and CPM, the votes obtained by Rahul Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, L K Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sonia Gandhi and Dakshina Kannada candidate B Janardhan Poojary.
The contest gives scope for a five per cent margin of error, which some astrologers have complained as being unfair. “The prediction generated by most of these astrologers are not scientific but based on common sense. They reiterate this on TV to sway gullible audience into becoming their clients,” Nayak said.
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To check the knowledge of the astrologers, the contest asked for the probability of Joshi winning from Lucknow, even though he was fielded from Kanpur. “Only six astrologers spotted the trick question. The others have predicted an astounding victory or a loss,” the FIRA official said.
FIRA said the association wanted to uphold scientific temperament and debunk superstitious claims. Since 1991, the association has been holding such awareness activities. The best result was when a woman contestant got eight answers right out of 25 questions during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. “She was more of an academician than an astrologer,” Nayak said.
More than 93 per cent of the contestants submitted that Narendra Modi and the BJP would come to power.
Nayak said he would use his provident fund to pay if anyone won. “I will never believe in astrology unless it undergoes scientific testing. However, if any astrologer does win the test, I will acknowledge that there is some content in his claims,” said Nayak, one of Karnataka’s best-known rationalists.