In the mid-1990s, as VP Singh was scrambling to help form a non-BJP, non-Cong ‘Third Front’ government, we asked the former prime minister if such a ‘khichdi’ government was good for the country. “I don’t know about being desirable, but it is inevitable,” was his sharp response. Singh was seen as the original mascot of third front politics: in 1989, he became prime minister by forging a coalition with, quite miraculously, the outside support of the BJP and the left. The single point agenda then was to remove the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government.
The defining image of the 1989 Lok Sabha elections was VP Singh campaigning across the country and claiming that he had in his pocket the Swiss bank account number where the Bofors payoff money had been deposited. Singh won the election and became prime minister but never revealed the account number. Nearly 30 years later, Rahul Gandhi is hoping to do to Narendra Modi what Singh did to his father Rajiv
The image was telling: Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad effusively welcoming the newly-inducted BJP member, Mukul Roy with flowers at the party headquarters. A former Trinamool Congress leader, accused in the Saradha and Narada scams, now being treated as a prize catch by no less a figure than the law minister. It was almost as if his entry into the ruling party had dramatically purified Roy of any corruption taint.
On the day the exit polls for the Delhi municipal elections were predicting a BJP landslide, AAP spokespersons were in a defiant mood, blaming the EVMs for a looming defeat. But how can you blame an exit poll for potential tampering of an EVM since the pollster is sampling voters, not the machine, I asked? The AAP representative paused and then blurted out: “Sab mile hue hai’. Conspiracy theories abound in India but by blaming EVMs for their debacle, AAP runs the risk of deepening its credibility crisis.
There are many joys of living in Goa, but its gastronomic pluralism is easily one of the tiny state’s biggest attractions. On the day that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was calling for a national law against cow slaughter, I was having dinner with a Goa BJP minister: On the menu was fish curry, pork sorpotel and beef chilly fry. When I asked the minister how he interpreted Bhagwat’s remarks, he smiled indulgently: “Bhagwatji lives in Nagpur, we live in Goa.
In the final leg of the 2014 general elections, Narendra Modi dramatically announced in a rally, “Yeh dil maange more”. It was a quintessential Modi soundbite: the BJP’s internal polls had captured a surge but the party leadership of Modi and his lieutenant, Amit Shah, were determined to push beyond “mission 272” towards a triple hundred. The rest, as they say, is history.
To understand vox populi on the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, India Today's Rajdeep Sardesai takes you through the 'Land of Awadh'.
We meet voters to understand will the alliance between Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party and Congress replicate the success of 2012? Or will Narendra Modi and the BJP will be able to build up on the momentum of the spectactular 2014 Lok Sabha elections? Or will Mayawati remain as the x-factor?
One of the lesser known facts perhaps of the 2002 Gujarat riots is that Dalits were at the fore of much of the violence against Muslims in Ahmedabad. When I asked an accused Dalit boy in the Naroda Patia area why he got involved in the rioting, his answer troubled me: “The local Bajrang Dal has promised us we will be allowed to stay in the land vacated by the Muslims who have fled”. Whether that was a riot “jumla” or not, the fact is many Dalits were the foot soldiers of the rioting mobs and were swayed by the promise of being empowered by caste Hindus.