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Astrologer Lachman Das Madan predicted a couple of months ago that Dr Manmohan Singh's Congress-led government would fall by September 26, paving the way for Atal Bihari Vajpayee to become prime minister again.

As Capital Buzz columnist Virendra Kapoor <reported in June Madan's stock had 'risen sky-high ever since he predicted, much before the results of the general election became known, that neither Atal Bihari Vajpayee nor Sonia Gandhi would become prime minister. Considering that the outgoing PM was widely believed to be on course to retain power, and Sonia was in with but a fighting chance just in case the BJP's allies slipped badly in their strongholds, Madan's prediction, duly published in his astrological monthly Babaji, was certainly an audacious one.'

'Naturally, Madan was not taken seriously by anyone, least of all by politicians who usually set great store by astrological predictions,' Kapoor wrote. 'But there is a new-found respect for the Delhi-based astrologer ever since the election results caused one of the biggest upsets in Indian parliamentary democracy. The surprise loss of power of the NDA, followed by Sonia's refusal to shoulder the prime ministerial burden, has made Madan a celebrity astrologer.'

'Since the election outcome,' Kapoor said, 'Madan has visited Vajpayee and told him that the date and time of dissolution of the last Lok Sabha was most inauspicious. Remarkably, however, he has predicted another spell of 'raj yog' for Vajpayee. Was that why Vajpayee, at the very first meeting of the newly constituted BJP parliamentary party, said he wasn't ready to sit in the Opposition for long?'

'Interestingly, Madan is not very optimistic about the future of the Manmohan Singh government. NDA politicians feel doubly energised by Madan's prediction that the government might hit a massive roadblock as early as September. And he holds out hope of Vajpayee leading the NDA back to power this year itself,' Kapoor added.

September 26 has come and gone, but Dr Manmohan Singh is still prime minister.

Associate Editor Onkar Singh met Madan at his home in Rajouri Garden on Monday to discover the former government official turned astrologer unchastened that his forecast had gone astray.

He insists the United Progressive Alliance government will fall in a couple of months, that Vajpayee will become prime minister again, and that Congress President Sonia Gandhi will bow out of Indian politics before the end of 2004.

Madan, 82, also predicted that Pakistan would betray India and that the two countries will go to war in May 2005, and that George W Bush will not be re-elected America's president.

Read on to find out what Madan predicts for India and its leaders:

Photograph: Getty images

Also See: PM meets Bush in New York

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