Meghnad Desai loves to cook, watch and write about old Bollywood movies and shuttles between London, Delhi and Goa. He pursues controversies on economics, history and anything else which catches his attention. He is also a British parliamentarian sitting in the House of Lords. He has written over 25 books, over 200 articles in learned journals and hundreds of newspaper columns in UK and India.
But there is a bigger question here. Why is it difficult in India, even after 70 years of democracy, to build non-dynastic grassroots parties which can start modestly at a regional level before wasting their limited strength on larger national ambition?
Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh may be lost, but that is a problem for Vasundhara Raje and Shivraj Singh Chouhan. Modi has to secure the trust of all citizens to win big.
Given our federal structure, the idea of holding elections simultaneously in the 29 states plus the Centre is impossible as of now. Some Constitutional amendments will be required.
There is one name which is always particularly intriguing and indeed could have changed the course of political history had he got his chance — Jyoti Basu.
Within four years of coming to power, Narendra Modi has transformed the political ideological map of India.
The appointments to the Supreme Court were originally entrusted to the elected government. It was Indira Gandhi’s spectacular misuse of that power to subvert and intimidate judges which caused a questioning of that arrangement
The battle lines for 2019 will be drawn around Congress representing an inclusive Hindu identity. The Opposition will paint the BJP as anti-Dalit, recalling the suicide of Rohith Vemula and other incidents.
Twelve months on, there has been no nuclear war between the US and North Korea.
The Congress realised its limited popularity and sought the help of young leaders of caste-based agitations and took 16 seats off the BJP. Not enough to win but sure to give Modi a warning that 2019 will be a tough fight
If the Congress makes a dent in the BJP’s majority tomorrow, the Hindutva lite approach will become the new Congress ideology. It does not have to be much.
The Congress has had very few contested elections in its entire history. Once Gandhiji became its leader, he nominated the candidate for party president and the All India Congress Committee duly voted for the sole candidate.
Rahul Gandhi visits every temple he can and offers puja in an ostentatious way which Congress leaders never did before. But now the battle for Hindu votes in Gujarat is fully engaged.
Indira Gandhi was also a hero who became a villain when, for the one and only time in the history of independent India, she established a constitutional dictatorship.
It is too early to say whether this will yield results, but in Gujarat, the Congress cannot lose. This is because though the BJP will win, it is unlikely to do better than Modi did in 2012
The BJP should be proud that it has undertaken several policy initiatives which have begun to clear the decades of debris left from earlier economic policies.
Theresa May has proved to be a much weaker Prime Minister than anyone thought possible. But in a way, her weakness is her strength. She won the election in June 2017, but her weakness made Jeremy Corbyn, the hard Left Labour leader, look like a hero.
India copied the Soviet model of economic development. Investment was made in machines to make machines, rather than in agriculture or consumer goods, because that was how the Soviet Union had become industrialised in a single generation.
The Gujarat elections should be the one worth watching. It will be the first test of the newly packaged Congress with Rahul Gandhi leading the campaign.
But why have five Cabinet ministers, who have no business interfering in a private matter, defended Jay? Why has Rajnath Singh announced that there was no need for any investigation as Jay is innocent?
Narendra Modi is serious about attacking corruption. The Prime Minister is a moralist. For him, tax evasion, sending money abroad, black money in its various forms, are not just illegal activities; they are treasonable.
Had Rahul Gandhi known a bit more about the history of his own party, he would have said that the Congress became a dynastic party by accident.
Does every state have an inviolable ‘demography’ which has to be left undisturbed?
There is no doubt that many people do not like the sort of ideas Gauri Lankesh held. They hate rationalists, atheists and anyone who seems Western or modern. They express their dislike. The novel thing is not that there are such people. There have always been.
I recognise that most Indians do not want to discuss anything else but Indian news. Yet the chance of even one-hundredth of one per cent that the world may be wiped out is worth worrying about.
The Dera Sacha Sauda is a bigger problem for the BJP than it would be for other parties.
It would be a great step if the MGB were to propose that it would return the PSU banks to the private sector as was the case in Nehru’s days. Indeed, all the nationalisation of Indira Gandhi can be reversed as well as the remnants of her permit-licence Raj.
Modi’s advantage is exactly that people underestimate him as a thinking person.
Normally Rajya Sabha elections are totally predictable, frankly boring. But we were treated to a cliffhanger.
After the BJP/NDA went out of power, the JD(U) stuck to its friendship with the BJP, and won the 2005 and 2010 elections. That coalition delivered the most clean and successful regime in Bihar since 1947.
The old order has collapsed. A new dispensation is in power. Raising the threat of communalism no longer has the bite Congress expects it to have. It is corruption which is the big worry of the new generation. It was this shift that propelled Nitish Kumar back to his old friends in the BJP/NDA.
The problem today is that none of the parties in the Opposition has enough numbers to command authority. The Congress leads but more due to inertia than any real strength in the grassroots. Its performance in UP has failed to shake its complacency.
The Kashmir tragedy has been so routinised and so predictable that nothing ever surprises any longer.
What happened then in the Fifties, and up to 1962 is well known. Despite the bravery of the Indian soldier who fought, though badly equipped, India was humiliated.
Make no mistake, if Babasaheb Ambedkar is being honoured by all parties, if Dalit candidates are sought after, it is because the Dalit vote bank is a formidable one. With 18 per cent of the population, Dalits are one of the largest minorities.
British Prime Minister Theresa May called an election she did not need in order to enhance her majority. The Labour party saw a chance to endure a massive defeat and replace Jeremy Corbyn. (Party leaders get blamed and resign for losing elections unlike Rahul Gandhi).
The problem lies with the disastrous economic strategy chosen during the first thirty years of planning. India chose the path of making machines on the Soviet model.