Right in front of the café, political analysts gather every evening for a steamy banter and this ‘panel discussion’ has been going on uninterruptedly for more than 50 years

Modern Café, a famous eatery on Besant Road, is not only known for its lip-smacking vegetarian savouries but also for its distinctiveness as a one-stop place for political analysts.

Right in front of the café, political analysts gather every evening for a steamy banter and this ‘panel discussion’ has been going on uninterruptedly for more than 50 years. Says Raghava Rao, a retired employee: “I started taking part in the powwow from 1968. Rain or shine, I will come in the meet my friends for a hot discussion on political ramifications”.

Narasimha Naidu, Babu Rao, Ram Murthy, Kotaiah and Prasad are among the 40-odd faceless people who participate in fiery ‘discussions’ and they have been coming for the past 25 years. “The discussion will turn hot during the elections. Mostly we discuss on the prospects and campaign style of the candidates. Each one will add a new angle to the discussion,” says the 78-year old Raghava Rao.

Says Basha, who hawks chat items: “Just like how people chit-chat in Irani tea stalls at Hyderabad, these people come here. At times the banter would go haywire ending in war of words. Soon they will gain semblance and leave the place only to come again the next day”.

Interestingly, all the ‘panellists’ are avid media followers who read newspapers and watch new programmes with keen interest.

Says Poornachandra Rao of Poorna Hair Styles, “So many things have changed in Besant Road for the past 50 years. Even the Modern Café presents a chic look after a makeover. But these folks are the same. They are the permanent feature of the thoroughfare”. The ‘panellists’ also acknowledge fact that everything changed on the busy Besant Road. “Earlier we had more space to walk. We now see more number of hawkers, beggars and vehicles creating congestion,” says Rammurthy, a regular to the discussions.

An interaction with the compulsive analysts by The Hindu, brought out some interesting observations from the faceless voters. One said the new voters would play a defining role, while the other bemoaned the depleting commitment among the political class. Another pitched in cursing the money power unleashed by the candidates, while a rookie felt that media always gave a distorted picture of the facts.

“They are harmless for they only indulge in talkathon. They like to express their opinion and Besant Road is providing them the platform. Long live their tribe,” says G. Phani, who chronicles city history.

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