2017, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Adityanath: He always promised to make Uttar Pradesh the horror story it has become

As Yogi raj marauds around the state, wreaking atrocity upon sordid atrocity, reposting a piece in The Telegraph from the day he took over reins as chief minister. What is happening today under him was never tough to foretell


March 18, 2017: As widely perceived and often stridently promised, the Bharatiya Janata Party has brought the D word to Uttar Pradesh’s centre stage; it’s not development, it’s divisiveness.

Few can match the unwavering sectarian virulence of Yogi Adityanath, who steamrollered his way to unanimous election as Uttar Pradesh chief minister this evening amid vociferous “Jai Shri Ram” cries from a cheer-mob that clotted central Lucknow’s arteries.

And far too many, even among those he outstripped, stood better qualified to handle the country’s second most important political and governance assignment. The Uttar Pradesh BJP doesn’t lack for leaders with administrative experience. The man it has picked doesn’t have any.

About the only institution Yogi Adityanath, aka Ajay Singh Bisht, originally from Garhwal, has ever presided over is Gorakhpur’s Gorakhnath Math, a prosperous temple trust. As mahant of the Math, Adityanath has been used to wielding unquestioned authority and expecting blind obeisance. Such, that he has often brooked no restraint from the law and flagrantly violated it. Jailed once in 2007 for encouraging Hindutva rioters and flouting prohibitory orders, Adityanath has often not been ashamed to play outlaw. This man is now the law in Uttar Pradesh.

He hasn’t baulked at bringing social peace to peril. He has shared a stage with hate preachers and those that have made open exhorts to violence against minorities. Much of what Adityanath has to say from the public stage probably deserves no repetition because it is patently violative of constitutional values, the law and good sense. But for those that might seek a sense, social media sites store an abundance.

Continue reading “Adityanath: He always promised to make Uttar Pradesh the horror story it has become”
2017, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

A General, and retired? Hoynaki?

Old soldiers, it says in the Oxford Book of Idioms, or wherever else you look them up, never die. It has come to our notice, amid the tolling of alarm bells for those who choose to timely hear them, that of late they’ve also developed a tendency to refuse to fade away. Didn’t you hear of that Jarnail sitting across the fence in neighbouring Bakistan? Have you not made yourself fully aware of the dire peril we are faced with? Do you not lend your ear (and any other or all of your body parts should the need arise) to the DeeaahLeeder? Has nobody told you it is your national duty to pay heed, homage, attention, respect, obeisance, cess, surcharge, income tax, entertainment tax, goods and services tax, and sundry tributes?

Jaago Mohan Pyaare, the wanton delinquencies of NothingHappened are over, banished, like the thousand rupee note, by imperious decree. Wake up and prostrate yourself to new requirements, conform, don’t question. Are you anti-national? Those hostile Jarnails from across have hatched a dark plot and chickens haven’t emerged from it. Pigeons have. They are being sent across in daring droves, surveillance cams stitched into their wings, their feet strapped with sensors, their beaks ferrying sinister missives. Pigeons that fly in from the west don’t take off with olive branches. They’re olive green, OG in military parlance. And now they’re overhead, in a macabre flap of wings. All it took that Jarnail was a forefinger jab on Facebook: Post! Danger got deployed all over us. And you thought he was retired, that Jairnail, feeding benign birds in his aviary? Just because Mahadeb wasn’t at his appointed station to confirm the peril to you over your morning tumbler of tea? HoyNaKi? (Which in other geographies would translate to either convey utter astonishment or the sense that what’s been posited is unacceptable.) You don’t believe the DeeaahLeeder? HoyNaKi?

Continue reading “A General, and retired? Hoynaki?”

2017, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

The new, incomplete Thesaurus of Vikas

Someone asked where is Vikas. Then someone replied Vikas has become the subject of a missing person report. Like Mahadeb. There’s more concern scudding about than just over Mahadeb. Are you listening, Mahadeb? You might be well advised to learn not everybody’s riveted on your absence, so if this disappearance is the collateral consequence of some attention deficit disorder you suffer from, end the charade. Come out of it. There are enough around your shack thirsting for tea, gaping morosely at shattered remains of the last bhaanrs you served out and which lie crushed so fully that they have begun to resemble the ego of a juggernaut that lost his jugger and had no option but to hold up the naut as prize. Meantime, the search for Vikas is on in earnest.

But it turns out that it’s a most malicious and malevolent canard that Vikas is missing, just the kind of spurious concoction that votaries of NothingHappened specialise in. Vikas is everywhere, perhaps you can’t see it, that’s your problem. You can’t see God, that cannot mean God isn’t there. God is everywhere. And so is Vikas.









You thought the naut was anything but the result of Vikas? Yes, the jugger was lost, but that was on account of the wicked conspiracies brokered between the forces of HAJistan and Bakistan by PappuPaasAaGaya and his lowly (also known as neech) agents. They were plotting in league with those retired Jarnails across the fence whose specialty it is to topple regimes. And it usually takes a conspiracy at the very least, which is what they had on the table that dark and secret dinner night. But that table has been turned and all has turned out well in the end. TheBossOfAllThings still wears the crown of naut and that is the gift of Vikas. Vikas has been the story since NothingHappened was banished.

Then notes were banished. DirtyMoney was banished. Cash vanished, and beggars bought POS tabs. The nation became the shape of a queue and began to trek towards Vikas, that many splendoured, omnipresent thing we have come to be blessed with. En route, we learnt many things about our real selves, and all of those were about Vikas.

For instance, if you wear a certain kind of headwear – just the kind that TheBossOfAllThings refuses to – you are likely to be mobbed, then possibly also lynched. Vikas. Or, in case you didn’t yet know, Ganesha was the construct of plastic surgery. Vikas. Maharana Pratap vanquished Jalaluddin Akbar at Haldighati, upon which Akbar retreated to Agra and tamely proceeded with the consolidation of the Mughal empire. Maharana Pratap, rooted ruler of the masses, celebrated his victory with chapatis made out of jungle grass. Vikas. The airbrushing of fraudulent history is a work in progress. We shall soon establish that the Taj Mahal is actually TejoMahal. Vikas. Meanwhile, the practice run on capturing domes (three were done in Ayodhya this month a quarter century ago) has resumed; a bhagwa was recently mounted atop a courthouse in Rajasthan. Vikas. We don’t need “their” votes. Vikas. We wear monogrammed pinstripes. Vikas. We change dresses every photo-op. Vikas. We have exchanged khadi for Fendi. Vikas. For the first time ever, an Indian hot air balloon rode piggy on a seaplane. Vikas. We have finally begun to openly deify the killer of the Mahatma. Vikas. We have acquired the capability to disguise MadeInChina as MakeInIndia. Vikas. We are going to run a bullet train so expensive its going to cost double the flight costs, but we can now afford it. Vikas. We have linked birth, death and everything in between to Aadhar. Vikas.

We will soon by law rob depositors of their life savings. Vikas.

We have the ability to shut and open Parliament as and when convenient. Vikas.

We have now achieved an Election Commission that listens and obeys. This happened briefly during NothingHappened as well, but now we have made victory of people’s will (which solely resides in TheBossOfAllThings) over such autonomies complete. Vikas. Actually, it is such a blessed thing TheMessiah finally arrived and revealed to us the truth about the derelictions of NothingHappened. That’s Vikas.

There’s one we missed out

In the long list of synonyms for Vikas

But we’ll sooner learn

It’s something that sounds like farce.

2017, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Remember, dead men do tell tales









There is nothing as loud as the sound of wrongdoing being hushed. Nor anything as revelatory as a cover-up. The more covers you commission and deploy the bigger the body of evidence becomes. The harder you hush over something, the more you are heard. Don’t believe me? Come spend a while at Mahadeb’s, even though he’s still gone. It’s come to matter less and less that he isn’t there. His air is. It’s a place that all winds cross, and on their wings arrive intimations.

Someone died. Someone important. Someone sitting over an important matter – as important as possible murder. Then it began to dawn that he may not have died. He may have himself been murdered. Everybody’s talking about it at Mahadeb’s: Did you know? But didn’t you? But, hush, nobody’s naming names because UnmentionablePeople may be involved. UnmentionablePeople meaning mention them and, well, you don’t wish unmentionable things happening to you, do you? See how careful I am being. Learn. And please take due note, PuppyLove and NumberToo, I have not named any names. I am a careful character, clean as a barrel after bullets have been shot into intended places.

Continue reading “Remember, dead men do tell tales”

2017, Column, LazyEye, Telegraph Calcutta

Anything goes, everything is history

Mahadeb is not a historical character, at least not yet. Don’t assume his absence for permanence. He’s gone, but he isn’t history yet. One day, inevitably he will be, but that will be another day. Everything becomes history, even iPhones. A time will come when that time will be gone.








Before you reach the end of this sentence, the beginning and middle of it has become history. Written, printed, read. Or even unread, which is the case most of the time. It’s gone, it’s the past. Other things have happened meantime, far too many other things. And they are being recounted as they become history, between coming to be and being dropped into that dreaded bin: history. Arguments, agreements, allegations, submissions, revolts, elections, coups, encounters, deaths, babies, babas, babes, bosses, confidences, endearments, difference, indifference, books, reviews, prizes, dialogue, dissertation, quakes, epidemics, eruptions, conquests, surrenders, uploads, downloads, virals, accidents, arrivals, departures, delays, detours, engagements, disengagements, ends, beginnings, tweets, retweets, shares, follows, unfollows, surprises, snow, drought, fog, smog, winter, summer, spring, rain, highs, lows, rapes, murders, rows, rapprochement, balls, banquets, problems, solutions, assignations, takeovers, policies, pronouncements, victories, defeats, entries, exits, secession, mergers, separations, fires, floods, food, festivals, funerals, order, anarchy, decay, renewal, wellness, illness, cigarettes, malts, memories, cheers, jeers, empires, estates, colonies, czars, kings, queens, princes, paupers, knaves, dominion, revolutions, writers, counter-revolutions, conformists, collaborators, isms, idols, painters, vanities, disputes, lore, loves, regimes, routines, calamities, appointments, disappointments, friendships, enmities, strikes, surgeries, claims, disclaimers, vacancies, insurrections, scoops, scandals, denials, disruptions, admissions, dismissals, depths, summits, celebration, mourning, waking, shitting, brushing, bathing, commuting, attending, earning, spending, dispensing, treating, maltreating, embraces, betrayals, election, referendum, selection, promotion, demotion, slaves, masters, wealth, penury, habitation, devastation, misery, bliss, benediction, prosperity, adversity, morals, mores, stations, platforms, offices, desks, designations, eminences, parties, politics, power, profit, loss, illusions, delusions, nightmares, dreams, deceptions, leaders, misleaders, rogues, ragamuffins, beauty, beasts, democrats, dictators, bigots, liberals, demagogues, debauches, delinquents, intellectuals, saints, spies, sinners, healers, charlatans, swindlers, patricians, plebians, minstrels, storytellers, sagas, chapters, closures, contents, malcontents, adventures, collisions, horrors, delights, cash, cards, ATMs, stocks, markets, sales, records, statements, petitions, affidavits, judgements, bills, cheques, receipts, journeys, places, peoples, valleys, hills, rivers, dales, meadows, floodplains, lakes, leaves, trees, timber, trunks, mines, coals, metals, topographies, tide, tempest, crop, harvest, glory, ignominy, conciliation, corruption, credits, dues, dereliction, devotion, cricket, music, laughter, tears, tragedy, comedy, bathos, pathos, families, secrets, revelations, grouses, forgiveness, desire, disdain, fondness, fealty, forgetting, remembrance, primetime, news, broken as it comes to us, bit by insistent bit, falling into that bin as more news breaks and falls. Everything becomes history. All of this is happening and passing all of the time. All of this turns to history. Even time, as it ticks upon itself and leaves time gone dripping, Daliesque.

So will Mahadeb be one day. History. He is, and therefore he won’t be. Am I overstating myself? I would think not. For even what’s not history is becoming history. As Jalaluddin Akbar’s defeat at the hands of Maharana Pratap at Haldighati. As Akbar’s rollicking love for a void called Jodha. Or the raging Khilji obsession with Padmini, neither princess nor Rajasthani nor Rajput, but the caprice of an inventive poet scribbling away at a fair remove in Jais, Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh. Malik Mohammed Jayasi was real enough, but he wrote unreal things. He was no historian. He’s only making history as we go along.

Who is she,
This Rashtramata,
And if she is she,
Then who art thou, O, Bharatmata?