The Saffron Socialist

Enough books were written about Yogi Adityanath when he became Chief Minister, but the one that stands out amongst them is The Rise of a Saffron Socialist by Pravin Kumar. This fast-paced book has a lot of interesting anecdotes. It’s always tough to write about a much publicised figure, but Kumar has managed to dig out that little extra that not only makes the book well worth a read, but also helps us understand India’s most flamboyant and talked about Chief Minister. Take for instance what happened in 2012 when the BJP imported Uma Bharti from Madhya Pradesh and projected her as its CM face for UP. Already upset at this move, Yogi was further incensed when the party brought in BSP’s Babu Singh Kushwaha, a prime accused in the NRHM scam. According to Pravin Kumar, when his seniors told Yogi that Kushwaha was brought in due to some “practical” reasons, he retorted: “Then there is no end. We should induct Suresh Kalmadi and A. Raja as well. It will help us expand in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.” For those who want an inside track on the Yogi phenomenon and also the politics of India’s largest and most influential state, the book is a must.

Early Elections?

The buzz in the national capital is growing stronger that Prime Minister Narendra Modi may go for an early Lok Sabha elections—bringing forward the general elections by a few months to early next year. If he does this, then the view is that he may request the Election Commission to club the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh elections due year-end along with these, as well as call for elections in Haryana and Maharashtra where the BJP is in power. Jammu and Kashmir may also be part of this electoral bandwagon. So while the move for “one nation one election” will take a while, as it needs legislative endorsement, this could be the first step towards that end. And analysts state that clubbing the general elections along with the states could help swing the anti-incumbency against the BJP-led state governments. Well, we will know soon enough if that’s the plan.

What will Nitish do next?

For now Nitish Kumar has agreed to stay on in the NDA—one reason being that Tejashwi Yadav is blocking his return to the Mahagathbandan, even though the Congress and Lalu Yadav are in Nitish’s favour. One formula offered to Tejashwi was that he would be the CM face, while Nitish would move to the Centre (in the event of a Third Front government). But the younger Yadav is unforgiving, for he blames Nitish squarely for his father’s misfortunes. In the meantime, after the way PDP was unceremoniously dumped by the BJP, the JDU is issuing not so subtle warnings to the BJP, with Nitish Kumar questioning whether demonetisation resulted in ending black money and Pavan Varma, JDU spokesperson, questioning whether the surgical strike achieved its purpose and also highlighting the disquiet in the economic and social narrative of the day. So will Tejashwi Yadav’s “Paltu Uncle” do another U-turn?

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