The emergence of Arvind Kejriwal has undoubtedly been the start-up story in Indian politics of the last decade just as the inexorable rise of Narendra Modi has been the biggest brand revolution over this same period. Both have had unique stories that appeal to a middle-class, aspirational India: the IIT-trained anti-corruption crusader who chose to take the political plunge with the promise of transforming the country’s political culture and the RSS-trained pracharak who promised to shake up the Nehruvian establishment.
In this episode Saurabh and Rajdeep talk about Arun Jaitley's role in demonetisation. Arun Jaitley's famous argument with Ram Jethmalani on the issue of defamation case against Arvind Kejriwal.
They also discussed Satyapal Malik Rahul Gandhi banter over Kashmir. Imran Khan loosing face and Bilawal Bhutto's jibe over Srinagar and muzzafarabaad. Apart from this discussion revolved around Modi government taking money from RBI via shaktikant das and Mayawati softening her stand towards BJP. Modi Trump meet and gestures were also discussed.
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.
We live, to put it mildly, in “interesting times”. This is an age where TV family serials have given way to political soap operas: Are Akhilesh and Mulayam at war or peace? Or is there a chacha still in-between father and son? We have a prime minister who refuses to take a break even on New Year’s Eve and an Opposition leader who determinedly takes one every year. In 2016, the rupee was demonetised; in 2017, will it be the turn of our politics to shrink into a one man, one party show?
The latest opinion polls in the US are suggesting a much tighter race for the country’s presidency but the debate in Washington DC, at least, has slowly shifted from “will Trump be the next US president” to “gee, how did someone like Trump get so close to the White House”. This mood shift reflects the belated realisation that the US could be electing a man who is clearly unsuited to the job, someone whose outrageous remarks evoke as much anger as mirth across large parts of the country.
Writing obituaries of political parties can be a hazardous business. In July 2014, an international publication invited me to write an article on the political demise of AAP. This was a few weeks after Narendra Modi had stormed to victory in the general elections and AAP looked like a start-up, which had run out of steam. I was writing a book at the time, so declined the offer. Just as well because a little over six months later, AAP scored a stunning win in the Delhi elections. The doomsday pundits had been proven wrong.
It was a picture that radiated temporal Lutyens-land power: Sri Sri Ravi Shankar flanked by half a dozen Union Cabinet ministers, including the finance minister, the BJP president, the Delhi chief minister and the Lok Sabha speaker. Arun Jaitley may have filed a criminal defamation suit against Arvind Kejriwal, the BJP leadership and the Aam Aadmi Party may be engaged in a bitter war of words, but Sri Sri’s political-cultural jamboree along the Yamuna floodplains appeared to melt away the differences.
A few years ago, I was sitting next to Manohar Parrikar on a flight. The defence minister was then Goa chief minister and was travelling economy, dressed in trademark half-sleeve shirt, trousers and chappals. When we landed, he waited for his suitcase to come on the conveyor belt, and then pushed the trolley on his own. No retinue of personal attendants accompanying him, nothing that would remotely suggest a VIP culture. His parting shot as he exited the airport, “all of you think only Arvind Kejriwal is an aam aadmi chief minister.
The first day on roads after the implementation of the Odd-Even Rule.