Can RSS rescue BJP in MP election?

DB Post 29 Oct 18



The BJP leadership in Madhya Pradesh has received a rap on the knuckles from the RSS bosses on the eve of state assembly election. Samidha, the Sangh headquarters at Bhopal, apparently received disturbing reports about anti-incumbency against the BJP. 

Many sitting MLAs, including ministers, face resentment in their constituencies due to poor performance. The party leadership failed to gauge the intensity of the movement against the SC/ST Act. Many sections of voters are unhappy. 

The strategy of raking up the Congress regime’s failures is not proving so effective this time. The BJP’s goal of achieving 200 plus seat looks like a dream as it struggles to return to power for  record fourth term. 

The past week saw frenzied activities in the RSS as it started a damage control exercise. BJP chief Amit Shah visited the Sangh headquarters to receive feedback from the parent organisation. It was followed by several rounds of marathon meetings between the leaders of the two organisations.  Continue reading “Can RSS rescue BJP in MP election?”

Feasting on the Maharaja’s meal

First Print 28 Oct 18



Madhavrao Scindia was one of the most charming political personalities of Madhya Pradesh. The scion of Gwalior’s former royal family was suave and cultured, with a twinkle in his eyes and an easy smile. Once you knew him, it was impossible to dislike him.

He was also one of the wealthiest politicians of his times. The Scindia Empire was the biggest and the richest princely state in MP. They enjoyed the highest 21-gun salute under the British, a privilege they shared with only four other princes in the country.

The Member of Parliament from Gwalior lived in an imposing palace and flew a chopper, making his election campaigns irresistible to journalists looking for colourful copy and glamour quotient in an otherwise drab landscape.

That is how I landed in the one-horse town of Dabra, near Gwalior, early that winter morning in 1998. I was working for India Today then. My photo journalist colleague Sharad Saxena accompanied me on that trip.

We had left our hotel in Gwalior before dawn, without having even a cup of tea, as the campaign trail was supposed to move from Dabra at 7.30 in the morning. Scindia emerged from his room in Dabra’s government guest house at 8, ready to hit the road, and was apparently surprised to see us waiting.“It is too early in the campaign,” he said, “you should have come after 10-15 days.”

“We have an early deadline for the magazine,” I explained.” I requested for an interview and he promised to meet us later in the day.

I had known Madhavrao Scindia for more than two decades, covering his politics, including his journey from Jana Sangh to Congress to Madhya Pradesh Vikas Congress and then finally back to the Congress before his unfortunate death in an air crash in 2001.

I had also written extensively about his protracted and bitter battle for the vast property and riches of the erstwhile princely State with his mother. Continue reading “Feasting on the Maharaja’s meal”

राजसी भोजन हासिल करने के नुस्खे

Prajatantra 28 Oct 2018


Untold Stories

How to share a royal meal



माधवराव सिंधिया मध्यप्रदेश के सर्वाधिक आकर्षक और ग्लेमरस राजनीतिक हस्तियों में से एक थे। ग्वालियर के पूर्व राज परिवार का यह वंशज चमकीली आंखों, चुम्बकीय व्यक्तित्व व सहज मुस्कान के साथ-साथ अपनी नफासत और शिष्टता के लिए मशहूर थे. एक बार आप उन्हें जान लें, तो फिर उन्हें नापसंद करना नामुमकिन था।

वे अपने समय के सबसे धनी राजनेताओं में से भी एक थे। सिंधिया राजघराना मध्यप्रदेश का सबसे बड़ा और मालदार राजघराना था। आजादी के बाद कई भूतपूर्व राजा, महाराजा और नवाबों की हालत खस्ता हो गयी थी. पर ग्वालियर राजघराने ने अपने धन का निवेश बड़ा सोच-समझ कर और अच्छी तरह किया था.

अंग्रेजी हुकूमत में उन्हें 21-बंदूकों की सलामी मिलती थी. ब्रिटिश भारत में केवल चार देसी रियासतों को २१ तोपों की सलामी दी जाती थी. देशी रियासतों के राजा-महाराजा और नवाबों को उनकी हैसियत के मुताबिक कम से कम दो और अधिक से अधिक से २१ तोपों की सलामी दी जाती थी.

सिंधिया ग्वालियर से लोक सभा सांसद थे. वे अपने आलीशान जयविलास पैलेस से चुनाव लड़ा करते थे. उस ज़माने में वे अपने निजी हेलीकाप्टर से उड़ान भरा करते थे, जिसे वे अक्सर खुद उड़ाते थे. जब वे चुनाव के लिए मैदान में उतरते थे तो देश-विदेश के पत्रकारों के झुण्ड उनके अभियान की कवरेज़ के लिए ग्वालियर आया करते थे. ग्लेमर, राजसी ठाट-बाट और राजनीति का तड़का ढेर सरे पत्रकारों को वहां खींच लाता था.

यही आकर्षण हमें भी 1998 की जाड़ों की उस सुबह को ग्वालियर के पास के एक छोटे-से कस्बे डबरा तक खींच लाया था. तब मैं इंडिया टुडे के लिए काम करता था। इस यात्रा पर सहकर्मी फोटो जर्नलिस्ट शरद सक्सेना मेरे साथ थे। Continue reading “राजसी भोजन हासिल करने के नुस्खे”

A Tale of Two Cities

DB Post 22 Oct 2018


“You cannot trust people whose cuisine is so bad,” said French president Jacques Chirac, in a public put-down of his British neighbours.

The remark could as well have come from an Indorean about the neighbouring town of Bhopal. On the other hand many Bhopalis think that Indore’s national food is sev, which they tend to mix with everything that they eat.

Most Indoreans think Bhopal is a town of Babus, which they have to visit out of necessity to grease the palms and get their paperwork done. No blue-blooded Indorean ever thinks of spending a night in Bhopal. Their work done, they head back home, even if it is past midnight.

Bhopalis think Indore is a town of moneybags. One prides itself for natural beauty and vibrant art and culture scene and the other flaunts its Mini Mumbai status. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Cities”