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From Modi to Didi: What the 2019 Lok Sabha election results teach everyone

After a torturous seven phase elections, spread over six weeks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is back with a bang with an increased...

A polarising poll: What Piloo taught us 

We were a bunch of fresh graduate engineers. Many had done engineering because only that offered a decent career option in the 1980s. And we had been thrown together because we were soon going to be sent on board merchant ships. Some hadn’t quite realised what that meant — months, if not years, away from home; living in a closed environment; and...

How the BJP did a massive favour for Mamata

During a debate at the Calcutta Club in 2017, the BJP’s Sambit Patra made a vociferous defense of the Modi government’s ‘surgical strikes’ using rhetoric appealing to ‘Bengali pride’ complete with recitations in praise of Ma Durga – Bengal’s presiding deity. He received loud cheers from the city’s elite. Emboldened by their response Patra then comp...

‘Match referee’ Election Commission under cloud, again

A  WhatsApp joke doing the rounds goes something like this: The Election Commission will not join the BJP. Instead it has decided to provide outside support to the party. Though the purpose is to elicit a laugh, the joke is indicative of a deeper problem regarding the credibility of the EC going by its recent rulings which are seen as favouring ...

India put on hold for two months in needlessly lengthy poll exercise

The prolonged, elongated election process initiated by the present Election Commission has proved to be a taxing and time-wasting exercise with a deep impact on governance in the country, besides depriving voters of an opportunity to deliver a quick mandate. This is the second-longest election schedule (39 days) since the first general elections...

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There is something about Priyanka Gandhi’s smile

Bathinda (Punjab): At a rally in Punjab's Bathinda, Priyanka comes on the stage, takes the lantern and says, 'Bole so nihaal.' The rows of men in colourful turbans and women in bright dupattas seated in front of her chant back, 'Sat sri akal'. Priyanka Gandhi reveals a grin that will stay on her face throughout her 20-minute speech. There are smiles and there is t...

World looks on as Trump bullies Iran

As the United States (US) ratchets up its moves to sequester Iran over the nuclear issue, the rest of the world, including Europe, is just watching on, unable to intervene effectively to douse the growing tension in the Persian Gulf. The situation is a throwback to 2002-03 when Washington hyped  the fabrication that Iraq’s president Saddam Husse...

BJP may need more than Sunny Deol punchlines to win Gurdaspur

In any other election, under different circumstances, actor Sunny Deol’s victory from Punjab’s Gurdaspur constituency could have been safely assumed. The constituency, which is just about 10 km from the international border, is tailor-made for the actor whose defining screen persona is of a fearless patriot who vanquished Pakistan in many battles, ...

To avoid wrath of voters, BJP’s Kirron Kher shifts to cyber campaign

It can be safely presumed from her filmography that actor Kirron Kher has very little work these days in Bollywood. So, she is utilising her fabled acting skills in politics — behind the camera. Kher, the incumbent BJP parliamentarian from Chandigarh, is defending her seat against the Congress party’s Pawan Bansal this election. Much of the defe...

‘Strong leader’ Modi, myth or reality?

The mention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi immediately conjures up the image of a “strong leader”, an individual with a “56-inch chest”,  he is macho and can single-handedly change the destiny of India.  He is someone to be feared,  a leader who cannot tolerate corruption;  an authoritarian streak runs in him and if he comes to power now India may...

EC fumbles in TN, greater transparency needed for re-polls

Chennai: The clumsy manner in which the Election Commission has gone about the task of ordering re-polling in 13 booths across Tamil Nadu on May 19 had fuelled rumour-mongering and wild allegations about "manipulation" of EVMs by the ruling AIADMK with the assistance of the BJP-led NDA  at the Centre. All that had happened was that empty EVMs were being shi...

In Bhopal, a tale of two competing brands of Hinduism

In Bhopal, this year’s election is not about choosing a parliamentarian. It is instead a referendum on two competing brands of Hinduism. One is the Hinduism, rather Hindutva, of Pragya Thakur of the BJP, exemplified by her in-your-face symbolism: flaming saffron robes, rudraksha mala (garland), a huge vermillion stain on the forehead and a predi...

Modi hurts his cause with statements that erode credibility

Narendra Modi went up the hill, To fetch a pail of voters, Modi’s jaw fell down and opened his mouth, And half-truths came tumbling after… The problem with our Prime Minister these days is that he can barely make an election speech without triggering a burning desire for checking facts. Such has become his propensity for half-truths, hy...

Airline firms can soar if government loosens its grip

Pulp fiction writer James Hadley Chase named one of his books “Just a Matter of Time” which became quite popular in the seventies. It might just be a matter of time before the Indian airline industry begins to flounder. India has become a graveyard for domestic airlines. At least three big and six to seven smaller airlines have closed down i...

Not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done

I request the Honorable Supreme Court to make public the report that gave a clean chit to the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi regarding charges of sexual harassment filed by a former woman employee of the top court for the following reasons. We don’t know what the truth is! All laws and procedures are in place only to find out the truth. If ...

If Rahul looks inward to see the world in new light

Rahul Gandhi is a born-again Buddhist. He says he regularly does Vipassana – the meditation technique apparently taught by the Buddha himself. In Vipassana, one sits and observes one's body. The meditator starts by hunting for sensations in each part of the body from the feet to the top of the head. And over a period time, he or she turns all hi...

Federal Front — is this an idea whose time has come?

If non-Congress, non-BJP parties are nursing an ambition of forming a Federal Front at the Centre, they must start making their moves now. After completion of five rounds of polling on May 6, 2019 it is clear that BJP is set to lose seats as compared to 2014 elections as there is no visible Modi wave. The Prime Minister’s following seems to be i...

Petty politics & poor optics: How vitriol clouds BJP’s discourse

When in Varanasi next, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should walk through the narrow lanes that connect Maidagin — the busiest market of his constituency — to the Manikarnika Ghat. Modi may notice a few things about Indian culture he may have missed because of his busy schedule. Every day, dozens of dead bodies from across the state are brought to...

Why Prez, NHRC should step in and support Gogoi accuser

If the executive and the legislature violate the rights, the victims look to the Supreme Court for protection. What happens if the apex court itself sets such an example of inquiry and protection to the complainant of sexual harassment? How can a panel of inquiry proceed in the absence of the complainant in the allegations of sexual harassment rais...

The incurable, chronic ailment of stereotyping autism

"Lok Sabha TV is showing a film on an autistic child at 10 am" was a message from a well-meaning friend on a Sunday morning. Lok Sabha TV. Doesn’t bode well, says a voice inside me. But I try to suppress the prejudice against government channels by dredging up positive memories of Doordarshan’s Sunday afternoon broadcast, in the distant past, of aw...

Raebareli and Varanasi tell the tale of two Indias contesting 2019 polls

A five hour journey from Raebareli to Varanasi, on a winding road that passes through silent towns, sleepy villages and several river fronts, shows two Indias fighting the 2019 election in Uttar Pradesh. One is the India of Raebareli: Quiet, nondescript, rugged and, like the parliamentarian who represents this high profile constituency, missing ...

Sanctions on Iran: Trump diktat challenges Indian sovereignty

At a time when many in India are making a song and dance about “nationalism” here comes the Iran test that is going to determine whether their government in New Delhi can walk the talk. The United States’ deadline for at least five countries, including India, to stop importing oil from Iran is ending on May 2. Three other countries — Italy, Gree...

In fight with Gambhir in Delhi, Atishi lives up to her name

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Atishi Marlena is living up to her name in the battle for East Delhi. Those who have been following her career know that her unusual surname is a mix of Marx and Lenin, two communist icons her father, a Delhi university professor, idolised. Her first name is equally interesting and unique. For those not well versed w...

Importance of the battle of Begusarai, the former citadel of CPI

In the sweltering heat of Begusarai, under a blazing red sun, Kanhaiya Kumar usually campaigns in a flaming red shirt. Every few minutes, he underlines the symbolism of his sartorial choice with his trademark salutation delivered with a clenched fist and a raised arm: Jai Bheem, Lal Salaam. But, the essence of Kumar’s campaign is the Bheem in hi...

Lacunae in law on who will judge the judges

“Kanche chenu mesthe” (is a Telugu proverb that means ‘when the fence eats the crop’). When that happens how do we protect the crop from the fence? Among the three estates of the Constitution, the judiciary is the only saviour where wrongdoings of the executive and the legislatures need to be corrected. If the guardians of the Constitution, the jud...

You can keep Modi out of theatres, but not theatrics out of Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi must have taken the popular description of India’s voter as mango people (aam aadmi) quite literally. Bang in the middle of a general election, he is regaling them with stories about his fondness for aam. Finally, after talking about Balakot, Pulwama, Hindutva and Pakistan, the PM has brought aam — never mind if it i...

Election Commission slides from Seshan’s ‘blast’ to Arora’s ‘whimper’

In the run up to the 1991 general elections, an institutional earthquake shook political parties. That year, the Election Commission of India (ECI) woke up from its deep slumber and strode the landscape striking down on anyone violating electoral norms, cutting the weed of corruption, irregularities and tightening the screws of electoral laws that ...

In Hindi heartland, Congress struggles to rise above the Modi din

Addressing a rally in Madhya Pradesh, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tried some Q&A with his audience. He beckoned a young guy in the front row to the stage and asked a simple question. This is how the conversation went. Singh: “Did you get ₹15 lakh in your account?” The young man: “Narendra Modi struck terrorists in Balakot. What else…” ...

Sri Lanka: When ‘hurt’ is globalised, revenge crosses borders

The scale, spread, and intensity of the terror attacks in Sri Lanka, which have left more than 300 dead and many more injured, has been marked with a ruthlessness and elaborate organisation rarely seen in today’s conflict-hit world. The motive behind the attacks is mystifying, especially since no one has formally claimed responsibility for the a...

Adieu Muthiah! It’s now time to celebrate the real history of Chennai

Chennai: (S Muthiah, who passed away on April 20, did a lot to dig out and record the history of Madras. His contributions helped in creating an awareness among the residents of Chennai, formerly Madras, regarding the history of the city. We at The Federal are committed to presenting all sides of any theme or issue. Below is a critical appraisal of Muthiah)...

Pragya Thakur’s candidature shows BJP will pursue aggressive Hindutva

For years, the BJP plied its Hindutva trade from behind the fig leaf of hypocrisy, aptly summed by its 2014 slogan, sabka saath sabka vikas (support and development for everyone). With Sadhvi Pragya Thakur’s candidature from Bhopal, the BJP has thrown off even that flimsy cover, revealing the ugly, divisive and communal underbelly of its politics. ...

‘Two Prime Ministers’ – an exercise in distortion

Distorting facts, quotes and spewing vacuous venom in political rallies seem to be the flavour of the season. Take the latest trending “two prime ministers”.   Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleague Rajnath Singh and the BJP national chief Amit Shah have vowed that they will never allow “two prime ministers” in the country. What the...

Modi, the verbal juggler who can spin any word to his benefit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi must be a fan of Humpty Dumpty. Oh, this is not about the guy who sat on a wall and had a great fall. But, about a great linguist who could, as he told Alice while she was lost in Lewis Carroll’s wonderland, make every word mean exactly what he chose it to mean — ‘neither more nor less.’ Give Modi a word — Modi, in t...

I-T’s selective raid ‘kolaveri’ continues to target the opposition alone

Famous Urdu poet Mohammad Iqbal once wrote a shikwa (complaint) to Allah, in which he lamented bounties always rain on the houses of non-believers while thunderbolts strike only the hapless Muslims. Iqbal’s famous line, ‘Barq girti hai bechare Musalmanon par’ (thunderbolts strike only the Muslim), explains the current virulence of Indian agencie...

Mocking democracy: TN’s dirty, open secret that seems to bring no shame

After the 2016 Tamil Nadu Assembly elections were declared, a political leader privately accused the Election Commission of allowing a “mockery of democracy”. His party was contesting alone and he was referring to how it had been swamped by the distribution of cash to voters by the DMK-led and AIADMK-led fronts. This election, he is part of one of ...

Revenge in Rampur: Jayaprada brings worst out of Azam Khan

Actor Jayaprada is contesting from the filmiest place in all of Uttar Pradesh. And, keeping with the spirit of her constituency Rampur, a small town with a unique Bollywood history, a racy confrontation between a wronged woman and a misogynist villain—both of whom incidentally were friends once but are now intent on revenge— is unfolding. The dr...

Muslim-dalit alliance: A betrayal of Ambedkar’s legacy

It couldn’t be more ironical that as the nation would be celebrating the 128th anniversary of  Dr BR Ambedkar on April 14 this year,  those who claim to have inherited his legacy are the ones who are betraying it. The prime claimants of Ambedkar’s legacy are some regional outfits out of which Bahujan Samaj Party is the most prominent one and the...

Sense of “Hindu victimhood” triggers NRIs love for Modi

Among the mass of supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a huge, unseen but raucous contingent that cheers him along. No prizes for guessing who makes up this contingent. They are the Hindu NRIs, obviously not all but definitely many. The NRIs (non-resident Indians) have given him a blank cheque of adulation, and a level of ‘bhakti’ that ...

Desperate BJP turns to ‘tragedy vampirism’ to garner votes

There are two key takeaways from the first round of polling for parliament that ended on April 11. One, the BJP is really desperate for votes, and thus jittery. Two, there is no wave in favour of the BJP or Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The BJP’s desperation is evident in the speeches of the party’s top brass. Its campaign is leaving nothing out...

India’s armed forces have a history with the courtroom

Controversy courts the country’s Navy chiefs, the the latest example being Vice Admiral Bimal Verma challenging the appointment of Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the Navy Chief designate. Vice Admiral Verma took his case to the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) on the grounds that he is six months senior to Singh. Now, the former has withdrawn his petiti...

Adichanallur excavations point to a cosmopolitan Tamil country

While a radio carbon dating test ordered by the Madras High Court has established that the archaeological site at Adichanallur, in Tuticorin district of southern Tamil Nadu, goes back to 900 BC, the site reveals more than just the ancient history of Tamils as explained in part 1 of the article. Adichanallur provides crucial clues that could help se...

BJP manifesto: A khichdi of promises specially ordered for polls

The main chef of the BJP manifesto for 2019 has worked with a simple recipe. Mix four decades of Janasangh, five years of Narendra Modi and eight decades of Congress welfarism; garnish with nationalism, patriotism; spice up with jargons like ‘tukde-tukde elitism’; serve hot with a dash of Ram temple. You would notice the BJP raided its entire pa...

It is official: Tamil race is at least 3,000 years old

On April 5, it was established that the Tamil civilization is proven to date back to at least 900 BC. Results of radio carbon dating of samples from an archaeological site were revealed by the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court. The site is at Adichanallur, a village on the banks of the Tamirabarani river in Tuticorin district of southern Tamil...

Why our hearts should not bleed for Advani, the architect of BJP

Since Lal Krishna Advani is a big fan of Hindi cinema, he would be aware of the poignant lines poet Shahryar wrote for the 1980s classic Umrao Jaan. “Ye kya jagah hai, doston (what is this place, friends)?” he asked, adding as far as eyes could see there were just clouds of dust. Advani, now in his 90s, was in an introspective mood on Thursday, ...

Yogi’s Modi sena remark ignorant; don’t politicise our professional Army

Monk-turned-politician, Yogi Adityanath, is controversy’s child. There is never a dull moment when he is around, especially when he is delivering campaign speeches. On April 1, he pushed the envelope a bit more than he usually does by describing the Indian Army as “Modi-ji-ki-sena” or Modi’s Army. There were howls of protests from several quarte...

Why set up NaMo TV when other channels do the job

The BJP has finally lived up to one of its numerous 2014 promises. In the run up to the elections, its cadres had chanted “Har- har Modi, ghar- ghar Modi (hail Modi who is in every Indian home)” by smartly repackaging a slogan that deities chant for Lord Shiva. Turns out, five years later Prime Minister Narendra Modi is indeed going direct to  ever...

How Conrad Sangma is giving BJP a Christian-tribal headache in Northeast

A popular adage about India's Northeast describes Assam as "the land of lahe-lahe" (laidback) and Meghalaya "the land of paase-paase" (the one that listlessly follows the slow steps of Assam). But in the ongoing political churn ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, this equation seems to be changing. After the BJP came to power for the first time in...

Rahul: Liberal, well meaning but may not be taken seriously

The Congress election manifesto is a reflection of its leader Rahul Gandhi’s personality. It is well-meaning, liberal, reformist but also a bit naïve in its approach towards critical issues like employment and rural distress. And like him, since it has come in the middle of an election being fought on issues like Hindutva and Pakistan, it is unlike...

Pappu taunt by Left shows Opposition has fallen apart

Just when “pappu”, the word used in derision to refer to Congress President Rahul Gandhi, had quietly made its exit from India’s political lexicon, it has made a surprising comeback. His national ally, the CPM, has resurrected it. Created by the BJP-RSS camp, pappu came into being when Rahul Gandhi emerged as a challenger to Narendra Modi. The t...

The inseparable twins: PM Modi and the Hindutva hero

Sometimes it is difficult to separate Hindutva ‘hero’ Narendra Modi from the Prime Minister of India. Every few months, there comes a time in the Indian polity when both the identities converge, erasing the difference between the leader of an ideology and the leader of a country. That familiar moment made its expected appearance on Monday (April...

Parties do precious little to give women decisive roles 

Chennai: Tamil Nadu has reason to be proud of its progressive label. Noted psephologists Prannoy Roy and Dorab R Sopariwala, charting the participation of women voters down the years in the country, say, “...among the bigger states, those which have the best record, with the lowest under-representation of women, are from the south of India: Tamil Nadu and A...

Why the EC’s clean chit to govt on A-SAT is dodgy

The Election Commission is in the eye of a storm by giving a clean chit to the Prime Minister on his announcement of Mission Shakti.  On Friday night, the EC declared that PM’s address to the nation on successful completion of A-SAT mission didn’t violate its Model Code of Conduct. The decision was based on para 4 of part VII of the code that appl...

Rahul’s Wayanad decision pragmatic, but betrays lack of guts

In his 1994 hit Dumb and Dumber, Jim Carrey asks Lauren Holly what are the chances of a “guy like her and a girl like him ending up together?” Holly replies: “Not good, I would say one in a million.” Carrey’s face lights up with a smile as he says: “So, you are saying, there is a chance?” So, like Carrey, let us imagine for a moment that t...

US pressures China on ban of JeM chief Masood Azhar

China is once again under pressure on the issue of designating the Jaish e Mohammad chief Mazood Azhar a terrorist, but in a watered down version,  at the UN Security Council. The US, undeterred by China’s veto against the move a few days back,  has with the cooperation of Britain and France moved a resolution against Azhar  but not under the 12...

Regional or national, Telugus want leaders who can deliver

In May 2014, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana went into their first Assembly polls and simultaneous parliamentary elections following bifurcation. Five years down the line, the electoral outcome in the two states couldn’t be starkly more different. While K Chandrasekhar Rao, the supremo of Telangana Rashtriya Samiti or TRS, is sitting pretty in Telanga...

Modi’s satellite ‘strike’ may have missed electoral target

New Delhi: By now it must have become evident that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an excellent strategy to attract attention before a crucial election. The template of this stratagem is this. A) Make a big bang announcement. B) Leave out its details. C) Go to town calling it an unprecedented decision. D) Dazzle the voter with high-voltage propaganda and ...

Why Goa MLAs joined BJP in post-midnight ‘coup’

The BJP has consolidated its hold on the Goa Assembly with two of the MGP legislators officially joining the party, intriguingly in the early hours of Wednesday. With two more legislators in its kitty, the BJP is now on par with the Congress at 14 legislators each. But what has attracted attention is that the entire exercise of joining the BJ...

How Sapna Choudhary exposed the hypocrisy of Indian political class

New Delhi: Until a few days ago, conversations about the coming Lok Sabha elections revolved mainly around Narendra Modi’s masculine nationalism in a country where brave men can’t wait to fling themselves into battle. While the BJP started shoving its 56-inch chest in the face of Indian voters, the Congress sucked its thumb in circumspection. For a moment it ...

With Rahul’s dole promise, Cong sets agenda for first time in 2019

Rahul Gandhi’s pre-poll promise of an annual dole of Rs72,000 to families living below the poverty line has finally managed to give the Congress a semblance of control over the poll narrative. For the first time in this election, Rahul Gandhi has set the agenda and forced the government to respond to him. In an election where the Congress was me...

Why Chidambarams need Sivaganga now more than ever

The candidature of Karti Chidambaram from Tamil Nadu’s Sivaganga constituency, which had been a stronghold of his father and veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram, is least surprising because what he needs the most at the moment is political protection. The BJP-led NDA government has been after him over alleged corruption and money-laundering ca...

100 years of Dravidianism: Why TN remains a tough nut for BJP to crack

Chennai: Palanivel Thiagarajan did not mince words. “How is it possible to have a uniform policy that would apply to the average Bihari who is 20 years old, has finished only primary school, and earns Rs45,000 a year as well as to the average Tamil who is 29 years old, has finished college, and earns four times as much?” he wondered. An MBA from the Sloa...

Safe seat for Rahul Gandhi from South India is pragmatic politics

Rahul Gandhi is about to make the smartest decision of his political life by contesting from a safe seat in India. He is about to implement the biggest lesson of warfare: when defeat is inevitable, survival is at stake and an aggressive enemy is closing in, flee to a safe haven. For, even Lord Krishna would have agreed that desertion is the better ...

In Karnataka, JD(S) tactfully fills the regional vacuum

Regional parties have dominated neighbouring Tamil Nadu and undivided Andhra Pradesh for decades and now Telangana too. Kerala has its own unique coalitions. But, Karnataka stands out for the absence of a regional party. The national parties — Congress, Janata Dal (Secular) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — still dominate electoral space in th...

Why is BSP Supremo Mayawati all hate for the Congress?

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo has no love and all hate for the grand old party of Indian Politics — The Indian National Congress. Recently, while holding a joint press conference with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav, she spelt out her reasons for this. Mayawati claimed that her experience told her that the vote of the BSP was indeed a ...

Despite snub on Masood Azhar issue, India can’t dare China

That China again chose to tilt towards Pakistan on the issue of declaring Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar a terrorist is clearly an assertion that Beijing considers Islamabad a friend though that does not necessarily mean it sees New Delhi as a rival. While one question could be how easy was it for China to take the call considering that it ...

21 days; 7 states; 25 visits: PM’s domestic sojourn on poll eve

Days: 21 States: Arunachal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Delhi and Tamil Nadu Visits: About two dozen Mode: Criss-cross, air, train and road. Attire: Local As soon as Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed power in 2014, he set off on a whirlwind tour of the world. He covered 50 countries in 41 trips costing the exchequer ₹355...

Is Modi the daddy that hero-worshipping Tamils are missing?

Soon after the NDA public meeting in Chennai on March 4, DMK president M K Stalin attacked the alliance asking how the AIADMK could ally with the BJP and Narendra Modi when Jayalalithaa did not do so in 2014. He recalled how Jayalalithaa refused to break bread with the saffronists, defying a nationwide Modi wave. Though Jayalalithaa recognised M...

Pak crackdown on terror: How Imran Khan still controls the narrative?

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart fight their respective battles to restore a 'New India' and 'Naya Pakistan', a new war of words has broken out after Islamabad announced the arrest of 44 people affiliated with outlawed outfits, including the son and brother of JeM chief Masood Azhar. The question that everybody’s ask...