2014, Kashmir, Reportage, Telegraph Calcutta

Poll Recall: Telegraph April 29/Kashmir: Hands Off Buttons, Eyes On Modi

Farooq Abdullah being assisted off the dais by security personnel at Margund in north Kashmir
Farooq Abdullah being assisted off the dais by security personnel at Margund in north Kashmir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The surest sign that the Kashmir campaign is part of a mainstream election is that Narendra Modi has come to drop in the thick of it.

The surest sign that the mainstream here is differently defined is that three-fourths of Kashmiris aren’t bothered voting.

Panchayat elections have drawn upwards of 80 per cent voters in parts of the Valley. Assembly polls this last decade and a half have seen an average 45 per cent turnout.

Electoral engagement in Kashmir comes tethered to compulsions of quotidian utility, local means and ends; it’s no benchmark of political endorsement. If it is, the interpreters of the Kashmiri Morse in New Delhi and beyond should spell out the message of 25-odd per cent, no more, coming forth to vote for Parliament.

But between those insistent truisms has sprung a teaser that captivates voter and boycotter alike: Is Modi coming? Is it going to be iss baar Modi sarkar? More Kashmiris are interested in how India is voting than Kashmir itself. Is Modi really coming? What will that do?

Is this election Kashmir’s renewed interrogation of the idea of India? Having spurned the polls themselves, are they reading in the 2014 ballot-leaves clues to the prospect of a re-negotiation?

What could Modi do? For better or for worse, but surely something new, something beyond remaining knocked as the “arch-stone” in the edifice of secular India?

Continue reading “Poll Recall: Telegraph April 29/Kashmir: Hands Off Buttons, Eyes On Modi”

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2013, New Delhi, News, Telegraph Calcutta

Angry Graffiti: Why Amartya Sen Won’t Have Narendra Modi As His Prime Minister

The Argumentative Indian enters a debate he’d like Indians to engage with

New Delhi, July 22: Narendra Modi’s incipient bid for prime ministership has received stinging disapproval from public intellectual and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. “I do not want Modi to be my Prime Minister,” Sen told journalist Sagarika Ghose in an interview that aired on CNN-IBN “As an Indian citizen I could say we Indians don’t want a situation where the minorities feel insecure and could legitimately thing that there was organised violence against them in 2002. That’s a terrible record. As an Indian citizen I do not want an Indian Prime Minister who has that kind of record.”

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Sen’s remarks come at a time when Modi’s anointment as the BJP-NDA’s prime ministerial nominee for 2014 is being given final shape on the political anvil. RSS bosses have signalled approval from their Nagpur shadows. Modi’s party boss, Rajnath Singh, is on a PR mission the United States, calling him the most popular leader across the land and lobbying to have travel barriers imposed on the Gujarat chief minister following the 2002 anti-Muslim mayhem abrogated.  His party spokespersons are in overdrive, pre-promoting his candidacy and protecting him from censure by rivals for flagrant and provocative references to India’s Muslims. He has likened his grief over the killing of thousands of Muslims under his watch in Gujarat to emotions he would feel if a kutte ka bachcha, or puppy, were to come under the wheel of his car. He also chose to disparage the Congress’ brand of secularism likening it to the burqa, the public attire of many Muslim women. Some of these statements have been made in the course of Modi’s revved up effort to define his vision of India to varied audiences. Continue reading “Angry Graffiti: Why Amartya Sen Won’t Have Narendra Modi As His Prime Minister”