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Rajdeep Sardesai
Thursday , April 03, 2014

Narendra Modi needs to do much more to reach out to Muslims

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"He is an expert in turning a lie into the truth. It is the BJP's principle to divide the nation and rule. Wherever the BJP government is in power, there is more corruption. Modi has started thinking that by promoting a few industrialists and a constant presence in the media, he can take over the nation. He does not understand that 70 per cent of India is rural and this is not going to affect them. He is not only poor in calculation, but poor in history". That severe indictment of the BJP's prime ministerial candidate came in December last year from Sabir Ali, the politician who now has the dubious distinction of having been a member of the BJP for just 24 hours. All it took for Mr Ali to change his views on Mr Modi was the fact that he was denied a re-nomination to the Rajya....

Monday , March 24, 2014

In election season, media faces credibility crisis, becomes a punching bag for politicians

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This is open season against the Indian media. Arvind Kejriwal says that he will throw journalists in jail if he comes to power (he later qualified that he was referring to "some" journalists). Manohar Parikkar, the BJP's aam aadmi chief minister, has said that journalists are unqualified and take money to write. The Congress has already boycotted opinion polls and accused the media of being biased against it. On social media - the ultimate space for the "outrage industry" - journalists are routinely accused of being 'paid media'. For Modi bhakts, Congress chamchas and AAP cheerleaders, media bashing has become this election season's favourite sport. The charge of being "biased" reflects a rising intolerance among the political faithful. So long as the media was hailing Arvind Kejriwal as the ultimate anti-corruption Prophet, we were, in the eyes of aam admi supporters, allies in their war. Now, when we raise....

Friday , March 07, 2014

The striking similarities of Modi and Indira's politics

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Narendra Modi today claims to derive inspiration from Sardar Patel and Swami Vivekananda even if his original icon was the long-serving RSS chief, Guru Golwalkar. Patel and Vivekananda are natural choices for the BJP's prime ministerial candidate: with Patel, there is the instant strongman from Gujarat connect while Vivekananda gives him the image of an "inclusive" Hindu nationalist. The truth is, Modi's real role model in the 2014 election is someone very different: the former prime minister, Indira Gandhi. The choice of Indira Gandhi may seem highly incongruous at first. Modi has claimed in the past that his decision to enter public life was cemented during the Nav Nirman movement in Gujarat in the early 70s directed against Indira's government. He, like many opposition leaders, has referred to the Emergency as the darkest period in India's democracy. And yet, in his 2014 campaign, he has attacked almost the entire....

Friday , February 21, 2014

AAP and the business of Delhi-centric news

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The phrase 'tyranny of distance' was first used by writer Robert Hughes in his epic book "Fatal Shore" on the history of Australia, a country seemingly burdened by its geographical isolation. This columnist has used it in the past to try and explain skewed news priorities where a minor fire in Delhi's Connaught Place becomes breaking news while a blast in the heart of Imphal becomes a peripheral news item. Sadly, even in this age of satellite television and OB vans, the distance between the news capital of the country and the rest of India seems to be widening. An immediate beneficiary and, ironically, victim too of this grim news reality has been Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party. A few weeks ago, I was in Kolkata, struggling to get to a meeting because the roads were choked with thousands of Mamata Banerjee supporters. The West Bengal chief....

Friday , February 07, 2014

Both 1984, 2002 a blot but conviction better in Gujarat

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Where were you during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots? It's a question I have been often asked by some Twitter followers who wrongly accuse me of having only focused on the 2002 Gujarat riots to the exclusion of previous clashes. My answer: I was in the comfort zone of St Xaviers college in Mumbai, far away from journalism and the pogrom-like fury in the national capital. The answer may please few of my perennial critics since we have reduced riots to a tragic "Your 1984" versus "Your 2002" BJP versus Congress political narrative. My conscience tells me that both 84 and 2002 were a disgrace, a permanent blot on a republican constitution that promised equality of citizens, irrespective of religion. Sadly, we choose to view riots through a partisan political prism shorn of the universal humanism that must underpin every act of violence against innocent Indians. The Congress will....

Friday , January 24, 2014

Cometh the anti-establishment neta

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In the 1970s, there was the anti-establishment hero; in 2014, there is the anti-establishment neta. I once asked Javed Akhtar whether he and Salim Khan had created the 'angry young man' as a reaction to the troubled pre-Emergency years. Javedsaab smiled: "We weren't really thinking about politics, we just wanted to tell a good Hindi cinema story!" And so, we had 'Zanjeer', Amitabh Bachchan and the rest, as they say, is history. Salim-Javed may have accidentally hit upon a winning formula; in politics, the evolution of the anti-establishment neta has been more deliberate. Whether it is Jayaprakash Narayan with his 'Total Revolution' in the 1970s or VP Singh with his anti-corruption plank in the 1980s, the space has always existed for a leader who wants to 'shake up' the system. Only now we have three leaders contesting for that role of change agent, making it a rather crowded space.....

Friday , January 10, 2014

Can Arvind Kejriwal avoid a repeat of the 1989 VP Singh phenomena?

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The ubiquitous Rotary Clubs are a decent indicator of the urban upper middle class mood. Rotarians are often professionals with a conscience: from blood donation drives to charity runs, they like to feel involved with public service. One of my first assignments as a journalist in 1989 was to cover a Rotary Club event in Mumbai. The guest speaker was Vishwanath Pratap Singh who had just left the Rajiv Gandhi government to form his own Jan Morcha. The hall was abuzz with excitement: bejewelled South Mumbai ladies and their powerful husbands were in a tizzy. "Isn't he just the kind of man this country needs?" was the dominant chorus. My story was headlined: "Middle class messiah takes South Mumbai by storm!" Exactly 25 years later, the Rotarians are excited again. Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Admi party is the flavour of the season and there is a similar air of anticipation....

Friday , December 27, 2013

India is changing and it's in the positive direction

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A year can be almost an eternity in a country like India: last December, there was a sense of doom and gloom around us. Angry citizens had taken to the streets in protest against the gangrape of the Delhi braveheart; the political class had lost credibility in a series of scams; the economy appeared to be on a downward spiral; and yes, even the Indian cricket team had just suffered a home loss to England. A year later, we don't quite smell roses in December, but there is a distinct change in the air. The same politicians who had fought to prevent the Lokpal bill from being passed have now united to push the anti-corruption legislation through. A new political party has, in fact, shown it is possible to 'sweep' to power with a unique political model that is designed to break the traditional party system. A strong anti-rape....

Friday , December 13, 2013

Arvind Kejriwal-AAP success has many lessons for Rahul Gandhi

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Arvind Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi are both youthful public figures in their 40s. Sadly, that's where the comparisons end. One is now a political rockstar, the other is in danger of leading his party into oblivion; one is the story of middle class aspiration, the other of elite entitlement; one comes from a professional family in Hisar, the other bears the most famous surname in Indian politics. Acknowledging the Aam Aadmi Party's phenomenal performance in the Delhi elections, Rahul said: "The Aam Aadmi Party involved a lot of non-traditional people and we will learn from that and will better it in a way you cannot imagine." Since the way forward has been left to our imagination, let me script the lessons a dynast who is inheriting a 128-year-old party can learn from a commoner who launched a political party only a year ago. The first lesson lies....

Friday , November 29, 2013

Kejriwal and Modi: Agents of change promising too much, too soon

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On the face of it, Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi are literally chalk and cheese. One is an IITian and former IRS officer who is surrounded by a mix of NGO activists, old style socialists and secular fundamentalists; the other is an RSS pracharak turned PM in waiting whose parivar includes the saffron brotherhood, hi-tech whiz kids and captains of industry. It is unlikely that the ideologically contrasting Kejriwal and Modi will ever break bread, but both have one thing in common: both are 'gatecrashers' in a status quoist political system. Both, in different ways, claim to be change agents to be 'feared' by the incumbent government. In a recent CNN IBN survey done by CSDS, more than half of those who preferred Kejriwal for Delhi chief ministership, opted for Narendra Modi to be their prime ministerial choice. In particular, the young and the restless - the 18....


More about Rajdeep Sardesai

Rajdeep Sardesai is the Editor-in-Chief, IBN18 Network, that includes CNN-IBN, IBN 7 and IBN Lokmat. He comes with 22 years of journalistic experience during which he has covered some of the biggest stories in India and the world. Prior to setting up the IBN network, he was the Managing Editor of both NDTV 24X7 and NDTV India and was responsible for overseeing the news policy for both the channels. He has also worked with The Times of India for six years and was the city editor of its Mumbai edition at the age of 26. During the last 22 years, he has covered major national and international stories, specialising in national politics. He has won numerous other awards for journalistic excellence, including the prestigious Padma Shri for journalism in 2008, the International Broadcasters Award for coverage of the 2002 Gujarat riots and the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award for 2007. He has won the Asian Television Award for best talk show for the Big Fight on two occasions and his current flagship show on CNN-IBN, India at 9, has been awarded the best news show at the Asian awards for the last two years. He has been News Anchor of the year at the Indian Television Academy for seven of the last eight years and won more than 50 awards in this period. He has also been the President of the Editors Guild of India, the only television journalist to hold the post and was chosen a Global leader for tomorrow by the world economic forum in 2000. An alumni of St Xavier's College, Mumbai, he has done his Masters and LLB from Oxford University and has also played first class cricket for the Oxford University team. He has contributed to several books and writes a fortnightly column that appears in seven newspapers.


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