Rajdeep Sardesai

Rajdeep Sardesai is senior journalist, author and TV news presenter. His book 2014: The election that changed India is a national best seller that has been translated into half a dozen languages. He tweets as @sardesairajdeep

Articles by Rajdeep Sardesai

The contrasting styles of leadership in BJP and Congress

The internal politics of the BJP may be tightly controlled, but it conveys an impression of change. Such coherence is absent in the Congress, as was seen in the recent chaos over its presidential poll

In the Narendra Modi- Amit Shah era, the BJP has pushed through changes with military style regimentation. 
Published on Oct 06, 2022 06:38 PM IST

The ‘Gujarat factor’ in the development project

The Vedanta-Foxconn deal has sparked claims of favouritism, reviving old rivalries. In the spirit of federalism and fair competition, the Centre should nurture a level playing field for all states

Yuva Sena protest against the shifting of Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor manufacturing project from Maharashtra to Gujarat. (States should compete for investment based on objective economic factors. ANI)
Published on Sep 22, 2022 07:01 PM IST

A way out of Congress’s gravest existential crisis

As the Bharat Jodo Yatra takes off, the Congress has to focus sharply on messaging, leadership, and, most critically, its mass connect. Only then can it take on the BJP

In the next few weeks, the Congress must decide: Is the Bharat Jodo Yatra about redefining its message or relaunching its star messenger? (ANI)
Updated on Sep 08, 2022 08:22 PM IST

The silence in the Bilkis Bano case is deafening

From political leadership and the media to citizens, the release of the gang rapists and murderers in this case has not shaken our collective conscience

The contrasting responses to the 2012 tragedy and Bilkis’s quest for justice reveal just how much State and civil society have been transformed. (HT Photo)
Published on Aug 26, 2022 10:02 AM IST

What Nitish’s move says about Modi-Shah’s BJP

His predicament was a consequence of a distinct power shift in the BJP of Modi-Shah, compared to the Advani-Vajpayee era, where alliances with once powerful regional satraps are becoming almost inconsequential

The choices before these leaders are stark: Either quietly accept the authority of the BJP (MS) leadership or risk isolation and be hostage to the coercive powers of the central agencies. (Arvind Yadav/HT Photo)
Published on Aug 11, 2022 08:35 PM IST

Why free speech is losing in India

With no clear lines drawn between free and unlawful speech, there is a growing sense of unease at speaking out fearlessly

The spread of unregulated social media hasn’t helped matters either. Meant to democratise public opinion, the reality is of a shrinking universe for any rational dialogue (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jul 28, 2022 08:30 PM IST

Will it be a Modi hat-trick in 2024?

While the BJP is making the right moves and has its eyes set on the South, the Opposition has failed to develop a counter-narrative or leadership model. This is making the BJP’s route to absolute power easier

Not just a geographical expansion, the BJP is deepening its social base, too: The presidential nomination of Droupadi Murmu is part of this conscious strategy to strengthen a pro-poor OBC-SC-ST alliance (ANI/ PIB)
Updated on Jul 14, 2022 08:24 PM IST

BJP looks to capture Sena’s political space

Maharashtra’s 2022 coup is a retaliation for the betrayal of 2019. Eknath Shinde may be the new CM but the real power will be with the BJP

Uddhav Thackeray submits his resignation to Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Mumbai, June 30, 2022 (/NI)
Updated on Jun 30, 2022 08:28 PM IST

What ails the Indian TV media industry

Polarised debates have replaced traditional news-gathering, with the Left and Right accusing the TV news media of bias. And the elephant in the room is the growing influence of social media in shaping the public discourse and TV news

Talking heads TV isn’t just an Indian phenomenon; globally, investments in traditional news-gathering have declined (Arijit Sen/HT Photo)
Updated on Jun 16, 2022 09:03 PM IST

Why India’s federal compact is eroding

Conflict between the Centre and some states is growing and now spans revenue-sharing formula and the implementation of NEET. The idea of cooperative federalism is unfortunately tangled in competitive and self-destructive politics

A robust multi-party democracy such as India cannot be diminished to a single party, a single leader elected autocracy, where crucial decision-making is devoid of consultative processes. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jun 02, 2022 09:27 PM IST

The Congress must save itself, first

The Congress’s ad-hoc leadership style has left the party in a state of perpetual inertia. The Udaipur Declaration recognises the urgent need for a revamp. To achieve that, the party needs to make some tough calls

Can the Congress afford an incrementalist approach, especially when facing an existential crisis? Perhaps the most candid acknowledgement of the party’s dilemma came from Rahul Gandhi when he admitted that the party’s connection with the people was broken. (ANI)
Updated on May 19, 2022 07:16 PM IST

The neta-police nexus must be dismantled

Every regime has seen police partisanship backed by executive overreach, with little regard for due process. Break this chain, now

Could an Opposition MLA such as Mevani have suddenly been picked up at midnight from Gujarat by the Assam Police and brought to Kokrajhar without the knowledge of the CM or law enforcement authorities? (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)
Published on May 05, 2022 07:23 PM IST

What the communal flare-ups manifest

A deliberate attempt is being made to find polarising issues aimed at othering Muslims — hijab, halal meat, azaan, the list is growing

The aggressive celebrations of Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti are meant to send out an unambiguous message that Hindu cultural revivalism is now an unstoppable force (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Apr 21, 2022 05:58 PM IST

Why two nations bowled out two prominent netas

While Khan and Sidhu are not too similar, what they share is the failure to recognise the limits of personality-driven politics replacing institutional cohesion in democratic set-ups

In a sense, both Khan and Sidhu are alumni of the Donald Trump school of disruptionist politics, larger-than-life figures whose commitment to the self is often greater than their loyalty to an organisation. 
Published on Apr 07, 2022 07:54 PM IST

The Kashmir Files: A tragedy retold

While the film might be therapeutic for Pandits, it does not provide any perspective on critical issues such as Delhi-Srinagar intrigue, rigged polls, State brutalities, and demands for greater autonomy and azaadi

A man walks past a poster
Updated on Mar 24, 2022 07:22 PM IST

How the BJP rewrote the rules of politics in UP

The party expanded its social base, pushed welfarism, and targeted the SP’s and Congress’s dynastic culture. The BJP’s rise, however, would not have been as striking without the presence of Modi as messenger-in-chief

Despite a governance deficit, the BJP was able to create a ‘pro-incumbency’ momentum because the Modi factor often overrides all else. The emotional connect that the PM has fostered, especially in UP, transcends a ‘normal’ voter-neta equation (AFP)
Updated on Mar 12, 2022 08:23 AM IST

In UP polls, the BJP has a clear edge

The lack of Opposition options, astute social engineering, welfare outreach, tight media management and the enduring appeal of Hindutva are likely to help the BJP in the crucial state

Bharatiya Janata Party supporters during a public meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kaushambi, February 23 (ANI)
Updated on Feb 24, 2022 07:35 PM IST

What Lata-di meant to the subcontinent

No one has comforted and unified so many millions like the melodious voice of Lata Mangeshkar, cutting across barriers of caste, community, region, even nationality

Lata Mangeshkar’s genius was matched by a complete dedication to the craft. Not a word or a sur (melody) out of place, she is a reminder of the virtue of devotion to the arts as a life-long mission (Vijayanand gupta/ht photo)
Updated on Feb 10, 2022 05:55 PM IST

The AAP is still a work in progress

It is no more a moral project, but a hardnosed political party. And instead of targeting the BJP, the party is infringing upon the Congress’s customary footprint

A shrewd Kejriwal has strategically placed himself outside the pale of any ideological straitjacket, neither a Left-liberal cheerleader nor a Right-wing nationalist (Sanjeev Kumar/HT Photo)
Updated on Jan 27, 2022 10:42 PM IST

2022 elections: It’s back to divisive politics

For leaders who have no answer to the real challenges — jobs, corruption, education, or public health — there is always heightened religious identity politics to fall back upon

Both these caste-based parties, one led by a Yadav and the other by a Jatav, viewed Muslims as their “natural allies”. The competitive courting of Muslim voters, often through local clerics and district strongmen with criminal records, made it easier for the BJP to prey on the fear and insecurities of Hindus. (ANI)
Updated on Jan 13, 2022 08:44 PM IST

In 2022, a prayer for a better year for India

From politics to economy, from religious intolerance to health imbalances, every arm of the nation needs reform

Here is a prayer for an India where what we eat and drink, who we marry, how we pray must remain a matter of fierce individual choice (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Dec 30, 2021 08:42 PM IST

In India, corruption is the great leveller

The nature of the corruption may vary, but the ‘deal-making’ is in-built into a well-entrenched system of localised political-bureaucratic networks

On a global bribery risk index, India made a big leap forward from rank 185 in 2014 to 77 in 2020. Digitisation and the use of technology in several government processes have reduced the scope for misuse of discretionary powers, be it in tax collection or public services (Shutterstock)
Updated on Dec 16, 2021 07:58 PM IST

The shift in PM Modi’s strategy

Beyond immediate polls, he is conscious of the need to come across as caring and benevolent when it comes to the poor and farmers

The repeal of the laws, therefore, isn’t about addressing the farmers’ anxieties, but rather because, in politics, there is always one inner voice that no leader can ignore: The sound of the election bugle (Bloomberg)
Updated on Dec 05, 2021 08:32 PM IST

The limits of the Gandhi-Khurshid strategy

Take on Hindutva — but remember that it will have clear electoral implications and give the BJP a tool to distract voters

If the Gandhi-Khurshid zero tolerance for religious hatred is to be pursued, then it must extend to any and every perpetrator of communal violence (PTI)
Updated on Nov 18, 2021 06:26 PM IST

Mumbai’s police-politics-crime nexus

The Wankhede-Aryan-Malik story is one that blurs the lines between crime, policing, and politics. Mumbai’s worst kept secrets have come tumbling out

Wankhede has a reputation for taking on Mumbai’s rich and famous. Critics accuse him of harassing the glamour world as part of an extortion racket, and supporters credit him with putting the rule of law above VVIP status (PTI)
Updated on Nov 04, 2021 02:35 PM IST

The idea of political accountability

Indian politics doesn’t take the idea of conflict of interest seriously. This allows politicians to escape responsibility

By refusing to sack Mishra or even express concern over the Lakhimpur fallout, the government’s credibility and commitment to the rule of law has taken a hit (PTI)
Updated on Oct 22, 2021 05:32 PM IST

The Rahul versus Mamata versus Arvind battle

The Congress can’t be discounted, but its weaknesses have emboldened other parties to expand their national footprint

The crisis in the Congress has sparked off a race for pre-eminence in the Opposition ranks. While Mamata Banerjee is trying to expand her party’s presence in the Northeast and Goa, Kejriwal too is moving quickly into states where the Congress is seen as vulnerable (Sanjeev Verma/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Oct 07, 2021 04:50 PM IST

In Indian politics, the challenge of transition

In the absence of inner-party democracy, arriving at a fine balance between gen-next aspirations and an ageing political leadership seems difficult. In politics, the premium placed on experience and stature makes it even more problematic to bring about any overnight change. But there is a way out

Timing your retirement right is never easy. In politics, there is neither a retirement age nor an institutionalised mechanism to facilitate a smooth transition to a new order (RAVI KUMAR/HT)
Updated on Sep 23, 2021 08:26 PM IST

Indian sport: The triumph, the challenge

The government has put in work to improve India’s performance. But governance structures need an overhaul

Prime Minister Narendra Modi interactis with Indian athletes' contingent bound for Tokyo Olympics in July. The PM can legitimately claim that his government has done more than others in building an Olympic medal momentum. But political control over sport federations must be tackled . (PTI)
Updated on Sep 09, 2021 06:16 PM IST

The agony of being a secular Indian Muslim

Islamists insist on religious solidarity. The Hindu Right insists on patriotism tests. Both are wrong

Taliban fighters patrol as two Traffic policemen stand, left, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021. The Taliban celebrated Afghanistan's Independence Day on Thursday by declaring they beat the United States, but challenges to their rule ranging from running a country severely short on cash and bureaucrats to potentially facing an armed opposition began to emerge. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) (AP)
Updated on Aug 26, 2021 03:00 PM IST
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