Kashmir is a prison with three walls

(First published in HuffPost India on 5 May 2017.)

File:Kashmir region 2004.jpg

‘Every nationalist is capable of the most flagrant dishonesty.’ — George Orwell Continue reading “Kashmir is a prison with three walls”

In UP, The Akhilesh Yadav Campaign Is Losing Steam

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 22 February 2017]

ALLAHABAD: Elections are those strange things in which no claim should be taken lightly. One of those claims could capture public imagination, metamorphosing into reality. The perception is the truth.

In UP’s month-long election, there’s a round of polling every fourth day. Every fourth day, the key players have an opportunity to alter the perception for the next four days. The Jat desertion of the BJP in the state’s western corners helped create the perception that the BJP was a weak force. Continue reading “In UP, The Akhilesh Yadav Campaign Is Losing Steam”

In Bellwether Kasganj, Caste Equations Are Firmly With One Party

[First published in HuffPost India on 7 February 2017.]

In Kasganj, the election ‘hawa’ became clear the moment it became clear who the candidates are.

The Bhartiya Janata Party’s candidate is a Lodh, Devendra Singh Rajput. The Bahujan Samaj Party’s candidate is Ajay Chaturvedi, a Brahmin. The Samajwadi Party candidate is a Muslim, Hasrat Ullah Sherwani.

If you ask them, they will all say they are getting votes from all castes and communities. “Saaton jatiyon ka vote mil raha hain,” is a refrain you hear often, the metaphorical reference to seven castes a reminder that this is a mathematical exercise.

Not just politicians and journalists, even ordinary voters seem to know the caste maths of Kasganj, though the figures get changed in travelling by word of mouth.

Depending on who you ask, Kasganj has 16,000 Brahmin voters or 42,000. There is similar confusion about other castes. The only matter of absolute unanimity is that Lodhs are the largest in number.

Here’s a rough caste breakup of the voters from local journalists who insisted these are the real numbers, not politically motivated ones: Continue reading “In Bellwether Kasganj, Caste Equations Are Firmly With One Party”

10 Raghuram Rajan Comments That Made Modi Government Squirm

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 23 January 2017.]

When Raghuram Rajan took over as RBI governor amidst a gloomy economy in 2013, The Economic Times showed him as James Bond in a graphic. The headline read, “The man who predicted world’s future set out to correct India’s present.” Continue reading “10 Raghuram Rajan Comments That Made Modi Government Squirm”

May We Ask Just One Question About Modi’s Permanent Campaign?

By Shivam Vij

Governing with political approval requires a continuing political campaign, wrote a pollster for US President Jimmy Carter in 1976. This gave birth to the theory of permanent campaign.

Reliance on political patronage and the party organization gave way to pollsters, campaign strategists, data and technology. By the time the Bill Clinton era arrived, this had given way to the idea of the permanent election. The administration behaved as though an election was always round the corner.

Narendra Modi’s 2014 election campaign was never over. He’s always campaigning, always pitching, as if an election is always round the corner. An election is indeed always round the corner in India, and every state election is seen as a referendum on Modi.  Continue reading “May We Ask Just One Question About Modi’s Permanent Campaign?”

Why CNN-IBN Dropped Its Bihar Exit Poll

[This article first appeared in HuffPost India on 6 November 2015.]

The CNN-IBN news channel had aired promos for its Bihar exit poll through last week. The exit polls, like counting days, are big for all news channels so this was not out of the ordinary. On Friday night though, as polls came to a close in the crucial battlefield of Bihar and every major television channel rolled out exit poll results, CNN IBN did not air the exit poll results it had promised viewers the previous week.

According to multiple sources in the channel, it decided to drop the poll due to inadequate explanations that were forthcoming from its polling partner, an agency called Axis APM. Its results forecast very high numbers for the Nitish Kumar-led Grand Alliance, at 169-183. It said the BJP and its allies would get 58-70 and others would get 3-7. Continue reading “Why CNN-IBN Dropped Its Bihar Exit Poll”

Why Red And Yellow Are Nitish-Lalu’s Colours This Bihar Election

(First published in HuffPost India, 20 October 2015.)

PATNA — The visuals of the Grand Alliance’s outdoor campaigning stand out not only for the lack of clutter, but also for their colours. The hoardings, the 300 raths traversing Bihar, the election stage–everything in the Grand Alliance’s election campaign in Bihar is blood red in colour. Some of the hoardings are yellow, and some of the early Nitish Kumar hoardings were in a bright multi-colour pattern that would have better suited a mobile phone advertisement. Continue reading “Why Red And Yellow Are Nitish-Lalu’s Colours This Bihar Election”