V. Baskaran (56), a pollster and former advisor to many top politicians in Tamil Nadu, including Chief Minister Jayalalithaa at a very critical period of her party’s existence in the mid-nineties, died here late on Monday.

A close confidant of Congress leader G.K.Moopanar, he developed his psephology skills as much with computer-aided models as with inputs from Moopanar. His analysis in many polls from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties was on the ball, prompting Mooppanar to call him ‘Computer Baskaran.’

Baskaran, an Economics graduate from Madras Christian College, Tambaram, and an MBA from Madras University, preferred to work behind the scenes. In 1991 he was one of the campaign advisors to Janata Dal. Though he offered advice and support to many political leaders, including V.P Singh, Sivaji Ganesan, P. Chidambaram, Dr. Kalanidhi and S. Thirunavukkarasar, it was his stint as advisor to Ms. Jayalalithaa that brought him out of the shadows.

Baskaran was hired after the 1996 defeat of AIADMK at the State Assembly polls. Almost all senior leaders of the party, including Ms. Jayalalithaa, were arrested and jailed for various lengths of time. He and his team fended off severe pressure from the DMK government.

He was jailed after Ms. Jayalalithaa came to power in 2001 in a narcotics related case.

The lower court granted him bail, but not before he spent a few months in jail. A few months ago, the Madras High Court absolved of wrongdoing.

Baskaran started a management consultancy firm, ‘Integrated Management Consultants,’ and also wrote a series on political scenarios in Kumudam and in Bagya. In early 2001, he undertook a State-wide training for SBCID on techniques of survey, sampling methods and data collating techniques.

He is survived by wife Eswari, daughter Mrinalini and son Keerthivasan.

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