Be it a matter of wooing voters or “appeasing the stars and planets”, candidates in the fray for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls don’t want to take any chances. Fortune tellers and astrologers in Uttar Pradesh told News18 that they are flooded with queries from candidates seeking “upayas” (remedies) and “anushthans” (rituals) to nullify negative factors and bring in good luck for the elections.

Many candidates are also religiously following the “tips and tricks” advised by astrologers to “placate their planets”, including freeing caged birds, feeding cats or crows, carrying red handkerchiefs while filing nominations or canvassing, and releasing live fishes into the ponds.

Brahmanand Colony, near Durga Kund temple in Varanasi’s Bhelupur area is abuzz with activity these days. Locals say that since March 20, when filing of nominations began for the Lok Sabha seat that will see voting in the first phase of the seven-round elections, the colony has been reverberating with sirens, and fleets of SUVs can be seen on the roads through the day.

Brahmanand Colony is home to Swami Kanhaiya Maharaj, a renowned astrologer and fortune teller.

“It’s quite natural and seeing an astrologer is just like seeing a doctor. The only difference is that you seek a doctor when you are facing some health issues while here you can come well in advance to nullify the negativity of your planets and to bring in good luck. Almost all kinds of people come to discuss their issues with me, but yes, ever since the dates of polls were announced, being a ‘political astrologer’, I am flooded with calls and messages from the candidates enquiring about their fortune and remedies,” Swami Kanhaiya Maharaj told News18.

The veteran astrologer’s office also has a huge picture gallery, dotted with his photographs along with political bigwigs. “I have spent 25 years of my life serving politicians, and not only from UP but also neighbouring states. People come and discuss the movement of their planets in order to appease them and bring in good fortune,” he added.

But what kind of queries does he get? They are endless, he said – Will I be able to win this election? How can I nullify the negative impact of the planets? In case of defeat, what can I do to gain a respectable number of votes? What is the best date and time for filing nomination papers?

Remedies are offered to the people based on their horoscope and planetary movement, he said. “They may vary from upayas or anushthans, which may include feeding animals on a particular day, freeing parrots on a certain day, feeding fishes, and so on,” Swami Kanhaiya Maharaj added.

Shamim Tantrik, another fortune teller who hails from Lucknow, said that in Vedic astrology, nine planets rule over individual destinies, exerting significant influence.

“When these planets are favourably positioned in a birth chart, they can bring success, growth, stability, and prosperity. However, challenges arise when planets are afflicted in one’s birth chart. And this is the time when a person like me or an astrologer comes into the picture. An astrologer can recommend a remedy to strengthen the weakened planets and to restore peace in one’s life,” he said. “Jupiter is the planet of wisdom and when it is well placed in any horoscope it is blessed with peace, harmony, and prosperity. Thursday is the day of the planet Jupiter, and to get the blessings of this planet, soaked gram lentils and jaggery should be offered to cows and horses and one should also feed corn to pigeons on Thursdays.”

Similarly, he said that Rahu is a shadowy celestial body that is also known for creating adversaries and wrath in the lives of people. “To avoid the ill effects of Rahu, one should feed sugar and flour balls to ants and fodder or green grass to buffaloes. It is believed that offering chapatis to black dogs on Saturday can minimise the problems of Rahu,” he added.

Another astrologer from Ayodhya says that he has been flooded with queries and calls from electoral candidates to improve their fate in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

“UP is not the only state where superstition rules the roost during election season. It’s a common practice everywhere. In Karnataka, BJP leader Katta Subramanya Naidu was known for wearing a fur hat while filing his nomination. During the 2017 state assembly elections, an independent candidate from Lucknow’s Bakshi Ka Talab assembly constituency, prior to filing his papers, visited his teacher’s house to get flogged, which he said had been lucky for him since he was in class 5,” said Shashikant Pandey, a political analyst from UP.

BJP leader Avinash Dwivedi from Lucknow gets out of bed only when somebody calls him by his informal name, “Bubloo”, said Pandey. “Also, there is a village named Tamouli in Azamgarh, the name of which is not taken until dusk. It is believed that uttering the name of this village during the day will invite legal trouble,” he said. “Despite having a large Yadav population, the leaders of Samajwadi Party including Akhilesh Yadav have kept themselves away from this village in previous elections.”

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