PAWAN KUMAR BANSAL is dapper, sharp and warm. As I walk into his home in the sweltering heat of Chandigarh, soft drinks are served immediately, but the Congress veteran and former Union minister must leave for a function and a party meeting soon thereafter. Yet, he doesn’t sound one bit like a man in a … Continue reading Civic issues dominate the national poll debate in Chandigarh
KHALEED RASHEED FARANGI MAHLI, one of Lucknow’s prominent clerics, has a message for the people of his community this election: go out and vote in large numbers. Self-confessedly averse to interfering in politics, Farangi Mahli, a religious scholar of Farangi Mahal, an area near Chowk in Uttar Pradesh’s capital city that had in the past … Continue reading Inside the Mind of the Indian Muslim Voter
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?
THE MOST STRIKING thing about Priyanka Vadra Gandhi is a cliché, but one that is true: that she resembles her much- revered, much-feared grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, a politician who the late writer Gabriel García Márquez is said to have famously exclaimed about: “Madam Gandhi—what a combination of delicate femininity and sheer … Continue reading Enter Priyanka: Can She Save the Day for Rahul?
JENCY JACOB, MANAGING EDITOR, BOOM FACTCHECK, RECALLS THE DAY Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman sharply attacked the opposition in the Lok Sabha for calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “chor” (thief) over the Rafale fighter aircraft deal. Jacob and his colleagues at their fact-checking firm joked that a “clipped video” of Sitharaman would soon go … Continue reading How WhatsApp Is Changing Indian Politics
IN THE BASEMENT of a residential building in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, a heavyset, middle-aged man is seated in a chair, watchful and slightly tense. He is multi-tasking as his team of 70-odd volunteers clicks away at computers, creating content and editing videos. They send slogans, promos and other material to the BJP … Continue reading Shivraj Singh Chouhan Faces His Toughest Election Yet
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
WITHIN HOURS OF the March 11th victory in Uttar Pradesh, BJP President Amit Shah was contemplating his next moves. As he told his close associates, he wants the party to gain strength in 120 Lok Sabha constituencies across various states where the BJP is a marginal player. A few days later, while speculation was still … Continue reading BJP Begins the Battle for Tougher States
ON THE MORNING OF February 27th, the gruff police officer who stopped our SUV some 10 km from Mau where Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to address a huge rally, his 16th in the ongoing seven-phased elections to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly, told me curtly that there was a threat on the BJP heavyweight’s life … Continue reading The War Modi Cannot Afford to Lose
ON THE MORNING of January 16th, a day after his wife’s birthday celebrations, Akhilesh Yadav appears “downcast” to one of his suave ministers who called on the leader at his Lucknow residence. A senior editor who met him that day was also struck by the lack of “usual verve” in the man, who, at 43, … Continue reading UP Elections 2017: The Day of the Bicycle Prince