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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

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

A manifesto for India at 75

Let us create an India which is more equal, harmonious, democratic and just, an India where opaque governments do not try and hide Covid deaths, where data is not falsified to create a fake perception that “all is well”

Army, Navy, Air Force and Delhi Police personnel during the dress rehearsal of Independence Day celebrations at Red Fort in New Delhi. (PTI)
Updated on Aug 12, 2021 05:15 PM IST

The politics and ethics of surveillance

There can be no rationalisation for hacking. But the government seems to believe it can ride out the storm

This studio photographic illustration shows a smartphone with the website of Israel's NSO Group which features Pegasus spyware, on display in Paris on July 21, 2021. (AFP)
Updated on Jul 29, 2021 06:48 PM IST

Ten questions for the government

The monsoon session must be an occasion to hold the government accountable and seek answers about its Covid-19 strategy

A view of the Parliament House. (HT Archive)
Updated on Jul 19, 2021 06:56 AM IST

The Cabinet reshuffle marks a break from the past

The pandemic, politics, perception and the PM’s preferred working mode have shaped the composition of the new team

President Ram Nath Kovind, First Lady Savita Kovind, ice President M Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla in a group photograph with the newly sworn-in Council of Ministers, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in New Delhi, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. (PTI)
Updated on Jul 08, 2021 03:52 PM IST

The possibilities, and limits, of a third front

Its architects will have to deal with internal contradictions, the role of Congress, and the question of leadership

Poll strategist and political consultant Prashant Kishor and Supriya Sule leave NCP chief Sharad Pawar's residence after meeting him, in Mumbai early June. (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jul 01, 2021 04:01 PM IST

Rahul Gandhi must choose his political path

He can either form his own party, based on his own ideals, and wage a long struggle against the RSS-BJP — or he can engage in the ruthless pursuit of power

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (PTI)
Updated on Jun 17, 2021 02:50 PM IST

The frayed federal compact

The onus rests on the Centre to genuinely reach out to states, accept differences, and work with alternative power structures

A view of a flooded locality in Lakshadweep following Cyclone Ockhi in 2017. (PTI File)
Updated on Jun 03, 2021 04:28 PM IST

For PM Modi, the seven-year itch

Seven years into their terms as PM, Nehru, Indira and Manmohan Singh faced political setbacks. It is now Modi’s moment of truth

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (File photo)
Updated on May 25, 2021 12:14 PM IST

A political and policy blow to the Centre

The management of Covid-19 has generated questions about the PM’s governance. The Bengal defeat has weakened the home minister’s image as an election winner

Representational Image. (HT archive)
Updated on May 06, 2021 06:06 PM IST

Covid-19: The buck stops at the top

If the Centre is quick to take credit for anything positive, then it must accept its share of blame for missteps and be held accountable

Supporters of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) participate in an election rally ahead of during the West Bengal assembly elections in Kolkata. (AP)
Updated on Apr 22, 2021 05:44 PM IST

Covid to polls: The chaos that is India

As Covid-19 cases surge, and economic distress persists, politics is marked by institutional discord and communalism

In television studios, we are told that a V-shaped recovery is on its way, but, on the ground, as one travels from Kerala to Assam, the one unifying factor is visible economic distress, especially among those in the unorganised sector. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Published on Apr 08, 2021 06:22 PM IST

In Maharashtra, khakhi and khadi in the dock

The state’s worst-kept secret is out. A thorough inquiry, exemplary punishment for the guilty, and deeper police reforms, are essential

To protect the trustworthy police officer and yes, the upright politician too, the chain of fraudulence must be broken (Anshuman Poyrekar/HT PHOTO)
Published on Mar 25, 2021 08:25 PM IST

The hypocrisy of India’s secular polity

The centrist secular space that rejects religion as a marker of political identity is being hollowed out

With mainstream secularism facing a credibility crisis, those who have suffered the most are Muslims. They appear to be looking for alternatives that go beyond clichéd and bogus definitions of secularism. (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Published on Mar 11, 2021 05:48 PM IST

The BJP’s ruthless expansion drive

Puducherry is only the latest instance of the Modi-Shah playbook of expanding political power. In a sense, Puducherry is now part of a pattern of Machiavellian intrigue that has been repeated from Arunachal and Manipur to Goa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh where a ruthlessly expansionist BJP seeks to consolidate its ascendancy by wangling either wholesale or retail defections.

By toppling a Congress government in Puducherry, the BJP has sent a message to neighbouring Tamil Nadu, where it is contesting the assembly elections with the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, that the Congress is a greatly diminished force, and the party can be vanquished at any time. (PTI)
Updated on Feb 26, 2021 06:30 AM IST

Why Indian celebrities bend to State power

The fear of retribution by State and non-State actors, even as commercial stakes are high, tilts the balance

The Rhea Chakraborty case last year is a classic example of how untrammelled State power can intimidate the film industry — the danger of a knock on the door from the Narcotics Control Bureau is omnipresent (AFP)
Updated on Feb 12, 2021 06:41 AM IST
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