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.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce, but in Indian politics, the farce plays out so frequently that the tragic element is obscured. Four recent instances highlight just how the disease of immoral politics is now a contagion that has spread across the political class. No party is immune to its depravity.
We want a Congress Mukt Bharat,” thundered Narendra Modi in the 2014 general election campaign, a slogan echoed repeatedly BJP president, Amit Shah. The declared goal was not just to win an election, but to “eliminate” the Congress from the country’s national political map. Two years later, the Modi-Shah duo’s ambition is on track. If at the start of 2016, the Congress was ruling in nine states, it is now in charge in just seven states after its governments were dismissed in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Long before Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, there was Sikandar Bakht ...
The year 2014 has been the year of the lotus. The indefatigable Narendra Modi-Amit Shah combine has taken the BJP to a spectacular victory at the Centre, won Maharashtra and Haryana and seem poised to win Jharkhand too. It is only when you cross the Banihal pass and reach the banks of the Dal that the blossoming lotus seems to wilt a bit. The BJP may have pushed for ‘Mission 44’ in Jammu and Kashmir but this could well be one bridge too far, at least in this election in the Kashmir Valley.
A simple tweet, all of 140 characters, can be hazardous to one’s health as I have discovered to my cost yet again. Last Sunday, as Narendra Modi went in for his first Cabinet expansion, I tweeted: “Big day for my Goa. Two GSBs, both talented politicians, become full cabinet ministers. Saraswat pride!” I was referring to the induction of Manohar Parrikar and Suresh Prabhu in the Union Cabinet.
If Narendra Modi’s triumphant visit to the United States was marked by a series of photo-ops, two stood out: the first was in New York’s Central Park where the Indian prime minister made a visit to a high-profile citizens’ festival ...
Indian voters have a knack of surprising political pundits. Just a few weeks ago, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah could do no wrong; now, after a series of byelection reverses, the Modi-Shah duo is being blamed for losing the Midas touch. Neither is the euphoria nor the harsh criticism valid: No two elections are the same and the extreme responses that accompany every election result are perhaps uncalled for.
We live in an age where a Hindi film is declared a hit if it has a strong opening on its first weekend: The era of the silver jubilee is well and truly behind us.Politics too, is experiencing a similar compression in time. So, Narendra Modi's first 100 days are already being seen as a verdict on his government. A 100 days is just over 14 weeks.
A few months ago, I went for lunch to the new Maharashtra Sadan in the national capital. The first look was impressive: marble flooring, bronze statuettes, spiral staircases, you could have been in the lobby of a five star hotel. This was no staid government accommodation and the extravagance seemed to confirm reports of how the local contractor had inflated the construction costs well beyond the original sanctioned budget.