Book5

TALE OF THE TALLEST

He was often called "a right man in a wrong party", but the label, though snappy, couldn't have been more wrong. AtalBihari Vajpayee never repudiated his political past or moorings and instead tried to make his party as broadbased and inclusive as possible in line with his country's diversity. In politics, apart from his impressive, impassioned oratory and stellar parliamentary career, he was always known for never bearing a grudge, being respectful but never being overawed by even titanic figures, and considerate and conciliatory towards his opponents. As one story goes, Manmohan Singh, then finance minister, was roundly upbraided in the Lok Sabha by Vajpayee on some issue and was so upset that he went to Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao to submit his resignation. A canny Narasimha Rao defused the situation by calling up Vajpayee to request he talk to Manmohan Singh and mollify him, which the Bharatiya Janata Party leader was only glad to do. That was Vajpayee's enduring and endearing characteristic, as this much-needed biography of one of the tallest and well-regarded leaders of free India brings out. Vajpayee, who began his political career when Jawaharlal Nehru still strode large, had plenty of respect for the prime minister but was never afraid to confront him in parliament, and tales of Nehru praising Vajpayee to visiting foreign dignitaries are well-known. One incident that may not be that known is recounted in this short but incisive narrative by journalist-cum-author Kingshuk Nag. In the 1962 general elections, the Congress decided to ensure Vajpayee's defeat in Uttar Pradesh's Balrampur constituency and even roped a noted Bollywood personality (no one glamorous but rather the cerebral Balraj Sahni) to campaign for its charismatic candidate, Subhadra Joshi. Nehru however refused all entreaties to campaign there, to avoid taking on Vajpayee directly, whose interest in foreign affairs he admired. (She won, by the way) Vajpayee had dubbed Indira Gandhi Durga in 1971 and admired her courage but was strident in his opposition towards her drift towards authoritarianism which culminated in the Emergency. It is a telling point that she had consulted him before "Operation Bluestar" - though she didn't end up following his advice not to go ahead. And he was both personally and politically brave - as this book reveals, he was one of the few politicians to confront anti-Sikh rioters in November 1984. On November 1, Vajpayee, who came out after hearing a commotion outside his official residence, dissuaded a mob from attacking a Sikh-owned taxi stand, and stood there till they dispersed. As prime minister, he tried thrice to make peace with Pakistan, and succeeded, to some extent. He also took some visionary steps for resolving the vexed issue of Kashmir, which he had first hand experience of, as Nag notes, right from the start of his political career when he was aide to Jana Sangh founder Syama Prasad Mookerjee. But as this brings out, Vajpayee's biggest legacy will be his pragmatism, especially not to abandon successful or necessary policies of past governments, ability to withstand pressure from extreme factions of his party and skill in forging political consensus, and ushering in a new paradigm of coalition politics - and see the first such government complete its term. This biography, which on the whole presents a balanced view (sympathetic at times but never gushingly adulatory), deals with both Vajpayee's personal and political life.

Book2

EVALUATING BRAND MODI

Perhaps Brand Modi Ka Tilism is the first book which carries in depth analysis of Lok Sabha Election 2014 to Bihar assembly election 2015. This book tries to bring out the truth explaining historic political changes in the country, their complexion, hidden and unhidden aspect of winning and losing of election.Why Modi won in 2014 Lok Sabha election? What were the mains reasons? Why Modi's magic in Bihar and Delhi did not work? What were his strategies to win election, why he failed to perform in assembly election of Delhi and Bihar. Is he not able to deliver on the tall promises which were made during the Lok Sabha elections? Whether people are reading too much into the assembly election results of two states? The 13 chapters in the book are based on thorough research on different aspects. The 2014 Lok Sabha Polls proved extra-ordinary for one single reason - a political party, which for long faced isolation, romped home to a thumping victory under a leader named Narendra Modi, who was considered a political pariah both nationally and internationally. However, soon thereafter questions have been raised on Modi wave. The query became stronger after BJP lost assembly elections Delhi and Bihar. The milestone development in modern Indian politics has been variously explained, largely by journalists-turned-writers. This book however is different. Most of the tomes which appeared on post 2014 Lok Sabha elections are compendiums of news reports thinly disguised as research-based work. Though Dharmendra K Singh, author of Brand Modi too is a journalist but he has taken the pains to go beyond the jumble of daily reportage to give answers through diligently collected statistics. In 240 odd pages, the writer has tried to build a systematic narration through 13 well-planned out chapters. The sub-title of the book covers five major issues, which according to the author dominated in the polls - The story of Changing mood of voters, why changing very fastely, Modi wave, Rise of 'Hindu' vote and Desire for Development, inspirational voters like middle class and impact of media..This subtitle gives indication of being introduced to a very complex narrative. The 2014 polls were the first elections which witnessed both the polarization of the votes of the majority community and their desire for development aggregate in support of the same candidate. Though a similar phenomenon was witnessed in 1984 too, when Rajiv Gandhi led the Congress to power but then he had the support of the largest minority group too.

Compny To Crown

ESSAYS ON COLONIAL MOSAIC

Colonialism in India, economic and non-economic, and its resistance by people in different forms has been the subject of analysis for more than two centuries. The Company Raj of the British East India Company which begun its rule from a part of Bengal in 1757 gradually acquired the entire territorial sovereignty of Mughal India by 1850. The 1857 rebellion, however, sealed its fate in India. It was replaced by the Crown. But in the period of a century, the Raj actuated a kind of social transformation that was rarely known in the pre-colonial Indian history in such a short span and at such a vast scale. It was a substantive break from the past which changed the elite structure, nature of state and ushered in new technology and economy. This book analyses this period of history spread over a century (1757-1857) admirably which is aptly captioned as Company to Crown with the logos of both on the cover page. The Company, which was formed on 31st December, 1600 by 218 members, knights, aldermen and burgesses 'to trade with East in spices and in other products prized for their utility or beauty in the West', became the state since 1757. Interestingly, the Company had raised its first troops of approximately 250 sepoys only nine years ago, in 1748, at Madras. Yet, it could defeat a much larger Indian force within three hours at Plassey in the rainy season speaks volume about its nature and functioning. And it may be further added here that the Company had lost the battle just a year ago to the army of Nawab of Bengal. The book contains eight chapters on diverse aspects of Company Raj contributed by young scholars teaching and researching in the field affiliated to different universities in Delhi. Almost all papers are of high quality. But the best, to my liking, is the chapter 'Educating the Colony' written by Sudipta Bhaarat and the best part in it is that he informs us that Voltaire had a strong liking for the Oriental knowledge so much so that he believed it to be the 'cradle of all arts and it is therefore to the East that the West owes everything' (p.134).