Eastern Uttar Pradesh: Will It Make or Break BJP in the 2019 Election?

IN BALLIA, KNOWN for its links to India’s freedom struggle and various melas, a strange morning ritual along narrow village roads stuns you. Men are seen taking their pigs out for a walk, waving canes, as if herding sheep that need to graze or walking dogs that must attend their call of nature. Here in the … Continue reading Eastern Uttar Pradesh: Will It Make or Break BJP in the 2019 Election?

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How Vajpayee Straddled Two Worlds and Made Hindutva Palatable to the Masses

They say Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the right man in the wrong party. He wasn’t. Academics and independent political analysts such as Robin Jeffrey and Vajpayee’s contemporaries in politics remember him in the 1960s as a young, firebrand leader of the Hindutva cause, someone capable of the most offensive of anti-Muslim statements. A man groomed in the … Continue reading How Vajpayee Straddled Two Worlds and Made Hindutva Palatable to the Masses

Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): The Beloved

On a deserted street outside Ahdoos Hotel in curfew-bound Srinagar on that distant afternoon of August 2016 from where I was heading towards Press Enclave, an elderly gentleman in a skullcap approached me, almost blocking my way, and began to talk animatedly in Hindi and English. He didn’t introduce himself, but I didn’t panic because … Continue reading Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1924-2018): The Beloved

WhatsApp Will Replace Facebook as the Online Battlefield in Elections 2019

DIVYA SPANDANA HAS fans requesting selfies with her wherever she goes. This actor-turned politician from Karnataka who now heads the social-media division of the Congress party obliges such entreaties as if by force of habit. When she sits back to chat, she says she is saddled with work, and it shows: in between sentences, she … Continue reading WhatsApp Will Replace Facebook as the Online Battlefield in Elections 2019

Assertions of Religious Identity Versus Sectarian Politics in Aligarh Muslim University

IN THE SCORCHING afternoon of May 7th, speakers at what students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) now call the ‘protest site’ close to Baab-e-Syed, the imposing gateway to its 450-acre campus, hold a crowd rapt with couplets, snappy one-liners and fiery protest speeches. The punishing sun does nothing to deter the eloquence and humour of … Continue reading Assertions of Religious Identity Versus Sectarian Politics in Aligarh Muslim University

Can the Indian Left Reinvent Itself?

Outside AKG Bhavan, the CPM’s headquarters in Delhi’s Gole Market area, barricades are in place with armed policemen on duty. India’s biggest Communist party in mainstream politics has been at the receiving end of violent protests in the past few years by rival political parties, especially Hindu nationalists, some of whom had barged in, fulminated … Continue reading Can the Indian Left Reinvent Itself?

How Modi Tapped the Wrath of ‘Lower’ OBCs for Political Mileage

INSIDE UTTAR PRADESH’S Jaunpur town, not far from its landmark 16th century Shahi Bridge on the river Gomti, RK Maurya runs a teashop that sells hot samosas and excessively sweetened tea. He does brisk business, assisted by two young adults, and saves enough money to send his son to an English-medium school with the hope that the … Continue reading How Modi Tapped the Wrath of ‘Lower’ OBCs for Political Mileage

Arvind Panagariya: Farewell, Professor

FOR MORE THAN a year in the run-up to the 2014 General Election, Arvind Panagariya had played a pivotal role in hardselling the Narendra Modi brand of ‘economics’ and reviving a debate over the Gujarat- versus-Kerala models. Along with his mentor, the trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati, Panagariya also locked horns with Nobel laureate Amartya Sen … Continue reading Arvind Panagariya: Farewell, Professor

M Venkaiah Naidu: A Friend and Loyalist

ON THE EVENING OF July 18th, Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu received a call from Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, who was in Kashmir at the time. It had been an emotional day for the 68-year-old parliamentarian. He had wept before his colleagues after formally stepping down from all political positions, including his primary membership of the … Continue reading M Venkaiah Naidu: A Friend and Loyalist

The Grand Alliance of Bihar Unravels as Nitish Kumar Loses Patience with Lalu

AT A RECEPTION IN a South Delhi farmhouse hosted two months ago by a former high-profile bureaucrat long associated with Bihar, a senior Union minister was holding court when he announced that Lalu Prasad, president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), had been confabulating lately with some leaders of the BJP, imploring them for help … Continue reading The Grand Alliance of Bihar Unravels as Nitish Kumar Loses Patience with Lalu