Rational allies; Battle stations; Preparation is key; Tongue in check; For whom the bell tolls; Footnote

Rational alliesBattle stationsPreparation is keyTongue in checkFor whom the bell tollsFootnote

  • Published 9.09.18
Telling it like it is

Rational allies

God, it is said, cannot be everywhere at once - India is after all a large country. The same, however, cannot be said about godmen. Such is their grip on India that no arena is free from their clutches; politics is no exception. But two veteran politicians, Sharad Yadav and Lalu Prasad, have always been united in their abhorrence of ' babas', as godmen are popularly called. The leaders never supported individuals like Baba Ramdev and Anna Hazare, insisting that they represented other interests. Even though the two were on opposing sides (Sharad Yadav was allied with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Lalu Prasad with the Congress), they were in complete agreement about godmen. In fact, so incensed is Sharad Yadav with the involvement of godmen in politics that at a recent book release function in Delhi, he remarked, "the BJP got only 31 per cent votes despite all forces combining to help them - Ghanta Baba, Chimta Baba, Balti Baba..." He is also wont to refer to some godmen who had campaigned for the BJP in 2014 but are now in jail. Sharad Yadav claims that "one of the causes of UPA's defeat was the decision to send top ministers to receive Baba and negotiate with Anna Hazare. The message went out that the government lost its grip." Congress sources claim that the then prime minister, Manmohan Singh, was too democratic to crush any movement - natural or otherwise. What is it that they say about too much of anything?

Battle stations

The stage is set in Bollywood for a fresh round of battle. Alleged lovers-turned-foes, Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut, made quite a splash in the past year or two with a chain of accusations and counter-accusations. This time the two will battle it out at the box office. Kangana's Manikarnika and Hrithik's Super 30 are both set to release on the same date, January 25, 2019. Plenty of ugliness has already ensued as a result of a love affair that reportedly turned sour. Such were the waves created by the disagreements between the two that some of the most powerful families in Bollywood got dragged in by the currents. While a majority of the influential names in the industry sided with Hrithik, Kangana, it was clear, had the public vote. The battle at the box office may thus reopen old wounds.

Preparation is key

"To be prepared is half the victory." Don Quixote may have got little else right, but on the importance of being forearmed, he was on the penny. Rahul Gandhi seems to know the importance of being prepared. He is meeting experts on various subjects in what is popularly being termed 'master classes'. Over a cumulative period of 150 hours, some 50 specialists in areas like law, policy orientation, infrastructure, research and so on are having candid one-to-ones with the Congress president. According to some of these experts, Rahul is not just attentive during the interactions, he also asks searching questions of his own.

The old guard of the party cannot help but reminisce about the period from 1982-83 when Rajiv Gandhi had consulted pundits in various fields to get capsules on a range of issues that were key to governing a nation as diverse as India. Similarly, Sonia Gandhi had engaged historians, legal luminaries and foreign policy experts before 1998-99 in order to bolster her understanding of the country's nitty-gritties. The Gandhi scion is following in the footsteps of his parents. Congress insiders say that in the event of a badly fractured mandate in 2019, Rahul would not make a bid for the top job. But what if the voters give the Grand Old Party more than 150 Lok Sabha seats?

Tongue in check

It is no secret that the prime minister, Narendra Modi, is not fond of press conferences and avoids them at all costs. His aversion, it seems, is contagious. Even more articulate BJP ministers like Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman are holding their tongue. During the 2+2 dialogue that was held with the United States of America, the latter wanted to do a Q&A session after the respective media statements had been presented. But India apparently shot it down. Since India is the host country, its writ prevailed.

For whom the bell tolls

The bells have begun to toll for the Lok Sabha elections and this has struck fear in the hearts of a large number of BJP politicians. The leadership seems to have decided that it will be merciless in denying party tickets to members of parliament who have become unpopular among the voters. The verdict would be delivered on the basis of a constituency-wise survey by independent agencies to determine the chances of a candidate's victory. In the past, such surveys were done by the people within the party and influencing those conducting the review was not too difficult. The involvement of professionals without ties to the party has put a spanner in the works of ticket-hopefuls. But never ones to give up easily, the MPs have already set about identifying the agencies that are being hired and readying an arsenal of weapons to fare well in the survey.


The woes of ticket aspirants evidently transcend geographical and political boundaries. In poll-bound Madhya Pradesh, BJP members and ticket-hopefuls have been told to gather 5,000 or more followers on Twitter and Facebook. Congress too has laid stress on members' social media presence. But this is proving to be a tall order for many. Some disgruntled members are wondering why this rule does not apply to Lok Sabha members. Sonia Gandhi, for instance, is available neither on Twitter nor on Facebook.