The Rajiv Era

Wajahat Habibullah’s book, My Years with Rajiv, has some interesting anecdotes about a prime ministership that hasn’t been very well documented. But finally an old school friend and a member of Rajiv Gandhi’s PMO has penned down his memoirs with some interesting insights. Such as the time when the then Chancellor of Jamia Millia, Khursheed Alam Khan moved a proposal to upgrade it from a “deemed” university to a full-fledged one. The proposal was taken to the then Minister of Education, Narasimha Rao. Habibullah writes that while Rao agreed with the proposal, he suggested that in keeping with India’s secularism the word Islamia may be dropped. Alam protested that this would dilute the vision of the institution. When the file came to Rajiv’s PMO and before Habibullah, he put both arguments before Rajiv, who, in turn, agreed with Alam’s proposal. And to this date the university remains in the headlines as Jamia Millia Islamia. Author and political analyst, Rasheed Kidwai calls this book an “absorbing, measured account”. Certainly it fills a crucial gap for those researching the Rajiv era.

Tejashwi’s Achilles Heel

Why did Tejashwi Yadav give as many as 70 seats to the Congress? Some say that this was to woo the upper caste vote but most are perplexed given the fact that the Congress doesn’t have much of a presence in the state. During the last state election in 2015 the Congress managed to win just 27 of the 41 seats it had contested. But sources claim that the Congress used pressure tactics to wrest more seats as Lalu Yadav is imprisoned in Ranchi and a Congress alliance is in power in Jharkhand. However, this bargain could prove to be costly for RJD as the Congress is proving to be the Achilles’ heel in the Mahagathbandan with even a partner like the CPI(ML) expected to get a better delivery rate on its seats than the grand old party.

Baat Prashant Kishor Ki

There is some speculation about Prashant Kishor’s absence from the Bihar polls, with many wondering if he has abandoned his plans for a political debut in the state. If you recall, in February this year, Kishor had floated a political task force, which was targeted at wooing the state’s youth. Called “Baat Bihar Ki”, the platform aimed at mobilising one crore youth and talked of a new leadership by not aligning with any of the existing state parties. The buzz was that this would be Kishor’s own debut in active politics during the current state elections. His absence from the arena, hence, raised eyebrows. But these elections were not his target. To be fair to him, he had announced in February itself that he would have nothing to do with the coming state polls as he wanted to make a fresh start post these polls. For one, he would definitely need more than a few months to get a credible political outfit in place. However, he did get one thing right: the youth of Bihar are clearly emerging as a powerful force in these elections, with first Tejashwi and later on the BJP focusing on jobs and development, issues that concern the youth the most. And there is a reason for this, with as much as 58% of the state’s population belonging to the 18 to 40 age group, this is a bloc that cannot be ignored.