It is the season of assembly elections. Maharashtra and Haryana elections are due in October and Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir should be held by the end of this year and so, the flavour of the talk of the season are the results of the bye-elections held in the assembly constituencies.

And the results pinching the winning party of the Lok Sabha elections have added spice to the flavour of the political buzz and debates with an amplified crescendo. Anyway, the outcomes of the Lok Sabha bye-elections were on the expected lines and so there was not much to talk about.

The pointing point while writing this is, the BJP is feeling the heat, after a great reversal in its electoral fortunes in most of the assembly constituencies where elections were held.

And from the viewpoint of the political communication machinery, such ‘buzz-worthy’ outcomes, when the bigger assembly elections are just around the corner, are frustrating for the party-workers, but are the moral-boosters for the political opponents, and can become big enough a factor if played well on the electoral sentiments focusing on the impulsive reactions of the voter.

And that should worry the BJP strategists, even if they don’t admit it publicly.

BJP’s national president Amit Shah today advised his party workers to not get demoralized with the bye-election results yesterday (or to say, in the past that is being counted after May 16, 2014 when the Lok Sabha election results were announced), the past that includes bye-election defeats in the July 21 bypolls in Uttarakhand (3 assembly constituencies-ACs) and in the August 21 bypolls in Bihar (10 ACs), Madhya Pradesh (3 ACs), Karnataka (3 ACs) and Punjab (2 ACs).

The BJP could not win any seat in Uttarakhand. The results of the August 21 bye-elections, held for 18 assembly constituencies spread across Bihar Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Punjab were an unacceptable 8-18 for the BJP. And here, the BJP lost its face in Bihar.

In the September 13 bye-elections, the results of which were declared yesterday (except Antagarh in Chhattisgarh where the counting will be held on September 20), the BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 assembly constituencies for which the counting was held today. The BJP alone had 24 of the 33 seats including Antagarh.

But it could win just 12 of 32. With allies, the total was 13, with TDP’s Nandigama win in Andhra Pradesh.

The BJP had all of 11 seats (one with ally Apna Dal) in Uttar Pradesh where the bye-elections were held. It registered an impressive performance in all these assembly segments in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was winner in 10.

But in the September 13 bye-elections, it lost 8. More importantly, the loss includes Uma Bharti’s constituency Charkhari that she vacated after winning the Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, and Rohaniya in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. The seat was held by Apna Dal. Interestingly, Modi had got around 1.20 Lakh votes from this assembly segment in the Lok Sabha election.

In Gujarat, Modi’s home state and his comfortable political turf since 2000, though the BJP won 6 out of 9 constituencies, in fact, the BJP lost 3 seats to Congress as these 9 seats were won by the party in 2012 assembly elections as well as in 2014 Parliamentary Elections.

In Rajasthan, the party lost 3 of the 4 seats. BJP had won all 4 seats in the previous polls.

And the BJP had performed exceedingly well in these states just four months ago.

Overall, the BJP and its allies went down from 25-7 out of 32 to 13-19 yesterday, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor.

It is another warning call, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

The loss is huge, symbolically and electorally. The victory on a seat in West Bengal and on one in Assam, state assemblies where it opened its accounts independently for the first time, are not going to be of much help except being the consolation prizes.

These are unsettling developments and the BJP strategists need to act like they are really worried. Amit Shah’s advice could have emerged from such a thinking over it. But mere advising will not help, given the factors that led to the BJP this debacle in just four months after an unprecedented, almost miraculous victory. The factors include the ‘pride’ of a big win and the subsequent big brother attitude and the resultant tension with allies, complacency, excessive dependence on the Modi Factor even if the elections are to be fought along the local fault-lines, infighting and the lack of focus on the context of the elections.

These are high talking points and have the potential to generate the buzz in a matter of days that could effectively dent the chances. And it has begun, the bye-elections results show it, even if it has nothing to do with Narendra Modi, his government and the Modi Factor.

And if left to continue, it will ultimately dampen the Modi Factor and will dent his political legacy that has just begun to take shape at the national level.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


The BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 assembly constituencies for which the counting was held today.

From 25-7 out of 32 (counting of votes for the Antagarh assembly constituency bye-election in Chhattisgarh will be held on September 20) to 13-19 today, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor, it is another wakeup call, and the warning signals are speaking aloud, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

And it instantly set in motion the expected developments.

– The political opposition is an enlightened lot while the Bhartiya Janata Party spokespersons are on defensive.

– The political opposition will react for sometime as if the who BJP win has been undone.

– The secular Vs communal is the flare of the day.

– With it, ‘Modi Wave’ waning or dented is one of the main headlines.

– The allies on the backfoot of seat-sharing talks before the upcoming elections are even more on upswing after another shot. Remember Uddhav Thakeray had hit back immediately on the BJP’s big brother attitude after its poor show in August 21 bye-elections.

– Talks of uniting the anti-BJP front are getting renewed impetus, especially after Bahujan Samaj Party’s absence proving to be a major factor behind the BJP humiliation in Uttar Pradesh.

– Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family will be stronger by one more member in the Indian Parliament.

– Though Rohaniya assembly constituency in Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency, has never been a BJP stronghold, its ally Apna Dal’s loss here will be discussed as such linking it with Modi’s debacle in his constituency that he is working to develop as a world class heritage city. Here what goes against Modi in such discussions is Modi had got around 1.20 Lakh votes from this assembly segment in Lok Sabha election this year while the Apna Dal candidate lost it this time by a margin of around 15000 votes and could secure only around 60,000 votes.

– Some satirical takes/political cartoons on Amit Shah, the BJP President, crowned after BJP’s brilliant show in Uttar Pradesh that he managed, will be put in planning, especially after the poll drubbings in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar bye-elections within four months of the epic show in these two states counting for 120 parliamentary constituencies.

So, be ready with the alignments and their day-specific consequences.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Narendra Modi is in Delhi while writing this but he would be heading to the state he comes from this evening to receive the Chinese President Xi Jinping who is arriving in Ahmedabad tomorrow.

It is after Hu Jintao’s 2006 visit that a Chinese President is visiting India for bilateral talks and the stage has been set in a way to tap some lucrative business deals running in billions of US$, and in spite of all the border skirmishes, the strategists and the communication people are painting up a rosy picture advocating soft approach to the controversial issues as of now. China is eyeing the Indian infrastructure market having potential worth trillions of US$ in the long run. India would also like to tap the Chinese market with increased depth. An increasing financial focus to the bilateral ties has the potential to change many factors for positive outcomes.

And so, there are the expectations of a growing thaw after the Summit is over. And so, the economy of bonhomie has set the table so far, as far as the latest round of India-China diplomacy is concerned. And so, there is a sense of positivity in the government circles, adding to the sentiments on ‘initiatives to deliver the promises made by Narendra Modi’.

But Narendra Modi would certainly be having mixed feelings now, even if he has emerged as a strong prime minister, after the second consecutive electoral drubbing in the bye-elections in less than a month. It is not just in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where Bhartiya Janata Party performed exceedingly well, that it is facing a situation to look for face-saver and inept excuses, it is also in Gujarat, the state that Narendra Modi ruled effectively since 2000.

In Gujarat, while writing this, though the trends changed to give the BJP a clear edge with the party leading in 6 seats out of 9 the bye-elections were held for, the initial trends showed Congress giving a neck-to-neck fight with leading in almost equal number of seats. In fact, the BJP may lose 3 seats to Congress as these 9 seats (and the assembly segments of parliamentary constituencies) were won by the BJP in 2012 assembly elections as well as in 2014 Parliamentary Elections.

Barring few bad patches, Modi’s government and its governance in Gujarat were remarkable, something that gave him the platform to raise aspirations of people across the country and an opportunity to stake claims to the Delhi’s office based on the promise to deliver them.

People were reeling under the pressure of the bad governance by the Congress party led United Progressive Alliance government, especially during its second term (2009-2014). The desperate urge to get rid of the UPA government find its refuge in Narendra Modi’s promises.

That gave the BJP and Narendra Modi an unprecedented victory, something unmatched in the recent political history of India, and a ‘possible’ option to enjoy the honeymoon period after assuming the office.

But the bye-election results say there was indeed no honeymoon period and the government was wrong if it thought so. Yes, nothing groundbreaking can be done in just four months, the groundbreaking efforts that India need to come out of the mess the UPA government had left it in.

But people are reacting. The voter is expressing his/her disagreement. And discussing the voter’s prerogative on the parameters of practical concerns of effective governance would be a futile exercise given the sociopolitical realities of India where majority of the people come from below-the-poverty-line and the lower middle class segments and find their lives engaged in the daily and monthly struggles to survive the increasing price-rise and other myriad of problems. Their day-to-day concerns are what matter for them and not the intricate matters of country’s fiscal health.

And majority of them are quality illiterate, we need to accept it. They are still swayed easily. That has been a major factor behind the BJP’s overwhelming victory with the party getting majority on its own. And this is something that is happening in these bye-elections as well, albeit on a reversed scale.

That would be and that should be in Narendra Modi’s mind. When he lands in Ahmedabad this evening, he must be thinking about the outcomes of these two bye-elections.

From an ordinary voter’s perspective, he has been voted in not for the BJP’s promises but for his legacy. And the outcomes must worry him.

The results of the August 21 bye-elections, held for 18 assembly constituencies spread across Bihar (10), Karnataka (3), Madhya Pradesh (3) and Punjab (2), were an unacceptable 8-18 for the BJP.

And the results of this round of bye-elections held on September 13 for three Lok Sabha constituencies and 32 assembly constituencies (Antagarh in Chhattigarh will be declared later) spread across 10 states should be even more unsettling for the BJP strategists.

The BJP had all of 11 seats (one with ally Apna Dal) in Uttar Pradesh where the bye-elections were held. It registered an impressive performance in all these assembly segments in the May 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was winner in 10. But in the September 13 polls, it is going to lose 9 while writing this. More importantly, the loss includes Uma Bharti’s constituency Charkhari that she vacated after winning the Jhansi Lok Sabha seat, and Rohaniya in Varanasi, prime minister Narendra Modi’s constituency. The seat was held by Apna Dal.

In Gujarat, as written above, it is trailing in 3 while writing this, and is expected to lose.

In Rajasthan, the party has lost 3 of the 4 seats elections were held for with almost confirmed trends. BJP had won all 4 seats in the previous polls.

Overall, the BJP and its allies had 25 out of the 32 seats (including Telugu Desham Party’s 1 in Andhra Pradesh) on the counting blocks today. While writing this, they are going to lose 15 of them today. The loss is huge, symbolically and electorally. The possible victory on a seat in West Bengal or the last minute changes in counting trends on some of these 15 seats are not going to help.

For the parliamentary constituencies, as expected, being the strongholds of political stalwarts like Narendra Modi, K Chandrasekhara Rao and Mulayam Singh Yadav, the outcomes followed the line. Vadodara was retained by the BJP. Medak went to Telangana Rashtra Samiti. And Mulayam Singh Yadav’s family got another of its member elected to the Parliament from Mainpuri.

From 25-7 out of 32 (or 26-7 out of 33, if we count Antagarh) to 10-22 (or 11-22, if we assume Antagarh goes to the BJP) today, after the 8-18 tally in August bye-elections, within four months of an unprecedented victory and overwhelming support to the Modi Factor, it is another wakeup call, and the warning signals are speaking aloud, especially before the upcoming assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana the next month.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


My reflections on life – in quotes

“If one realizes to realize,
..the continuity of life, beyond life and beyond death, one of the basic quests of life,
..before ‘I’ and after ‘I’,
..and the questions on the existence of ‘I’,
..seeking the answers,
..that take the existentialist beyond this life,
..beyond the realms of ‘I’, the mysteries of existence, the questions on identity,
..seeking to take your ‘I’ to this quest.”



©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


A day brings reflections
Feelings create emotions

Days meet the months
Months try the seasons

Time moves to get its wear
On what life tells of a year

Day after day, bit by bit
One more year is knit

When the day recollects
Experiences and their texts

With memories in motion
Reflecting on my passion

On a day to look back
Calling the journeyed track

Revisiting what events pack
With my thoughtful knack

On the living on this way
In rendezvous with this day

The day brings back stories
Stories than extend the series

That began with the first cry
Building on life for my sky

The day brings reflections
With tales of my seasons

Born on a day, in my age
It’s time again for my ways

Born on this day, in my sway
Life reminisces the year today

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


The Collectibles Then-Cassettes-2

The Collectibles Then-Cassettes-1I am a music lover.

I love films.

Music that soothes soul, transcending boundaries, meeting ages, staying with the mood..

Films with brilliant narratives, of any genre, mastering the art and the craft of cinema-making, with meaningful cinema at its centre..

And I love to own titles before watching movies. And I can say my collection is good on that scale and is growing.

Movies I still watch, the old masterpieces and the new creations. That I do regularly. Yes, I don’t like visiting theatres for it because it impedes my liberty while watching and reading a movie.

With music that is not the scene. Enjoying music and songs has become random, limiting mostly from the days when I used to build my music collection. Very few contemporary songs have entered my playlists since then. Nothing on buying the titles.

Anyway, in the age of digital music, tablet computers and smartphones, the need to own titles physically has lost its charm. And it didn’t happen gradually. In fact, given the price points of cassettes (or compact cassettes or audio tapes or simply tapes) and easy availability of MP3 compact discs (CDs), the transition from collecting the cassettes to CDs or DVDs (Digital Versatile Disc) never happened and was never even felt for.

But back then in 1990s, when I started collecting, cassettes were in vogue, were the in thing. And by the time I stopped it in late 1990s when CDs were taking over and I was investing more in books, I had a collection of over 1000 titles, from film music to private albums, from Classical Indian Music to Western Rock and Pop, from Indipop to Ghazals, From Sufi to Soul, from Heavy Metal to Soft Rock, from Devotional to Inspirational and what not.

The Collectibles Then-Cassettes-3The Collectibles Then-Cassettes-4

Unfortunately, the titles from the collection are not of much use now except being the ‘collectibles’. I haven’t tried playing the titles to check it but what else can be said when the magnetic plastic tapes were left unused for so many years, and that too, without proper care. I rue it now, even if it was not practically possible for me. Being so many in number and the cassette players fast losing market and place in the psyche, it was never a feasible idea to carry them, when coupled with the prospect of easy availability of CDs and memory cards/micro cards converting cellphones into music players. Availability of micro digital players like iPod only added to such sentiments.

But, even if many of them cannot be played any more, they share best of my memories of adolescence and I am not going to dump them. I can still preserve them in the physical form and format they are in. Yes, weathering the neglect and being over 15 years old, the look on many of them is scratchy and hazy now, but still, they make for my collection. I will try and see that most of them can be playable again. Because they personify memories of my initial creative urges.

The Collectibles Then-Cassettes-5    The Collectibles Then-Cassettes-6

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Last week, when my sister clicked this photograph in Shirdi and sent me, the first thought that came to my mind was similar to what she had her in mind as well while clicking it – ‘Bambaiya Mithai’, the sweet from Bombay.

It’s not that it was after a long time that I had seen it. This one is a famous street confection made from sugar (and air) and vendors can be seen selling it, in streets, on beaches, on busy tourist spots, near public hangover spots and during festivities. It is children’s favourite but elders love it as well. Yes, I don’t remember when I had it last time after my childhood, but that doesn’t make for any story here.

Coincidentally, when my sister sent it through Whatsapp that day, the frame of the TV I was watching was showing a character eating it and calling it ‘Budhiya Ke Baal’, the old lady’s hairs.

Cotton Candy

I cannot say if I hadn’t heard the term before, but I could not recall it. For me and my childhood in Varanasi in 1980s and early 1990s, it was the pinkish sweet ‘Bambaiya Mithai’. We were told so by the elders. The vendor would tell us so. And our curiosity never went beyond imagining and being told that the sugary sweet originated from Mumbai (Bombay then).

The little sweet bagged memories of cotton candy, as it is called universally, much beyond our Bombay link, was available to us mostly in small plastic pouches, unlike the big ones as shown in this photograph. It was not that the bigger ones were not available then, but were always a luxury. Even the street vendor would not bring the big sized ones in his stock as very few would buy them.

Later, during our senior school days, we came to know about this spun-sugar confection was European in origin and was not available to all as its preparation was difficult. But the machines in the 20th Century made it a household name, so much so, that in Varanasi, thousands of miles away from the European cities, we would call it by a name that was in no way related to it. We also came to know that the sweet was available in different flavors and colours.

But, for us, in our childhood days, it was the small pink heap, prepared from thin strands of liquefied sugar, that weaved into our memories our purest of childhood emotions, the innocence to think of that small packet not costing much as the most prized possession of the moment.

The small packets of coloured spun-sugar were one of the spinning wheels of our edacious excursions. The childhood appetite is always big for such delicacies and being made mostly of air, our ‘Bambaiya Mithai’ was always insufficient to quench our desire for it. Added to it was the rationing imposed by the elders in the family.

This photograph and the TV frame brought back those memories and I responded back to my childhood with smiling thoughts on its inquisitiveness on ‘Budhiya Ke Baal’ and ‘Bambaiya Mithai’. I did some secondary research but the only Hindi name that I could come across for cotton candy was ‘Budhiya Ke Baal’. Not a single page showed any related information on ‘Bambaiya Mithai’.

True, I was long aware that the old lady’s hairs got first trimming and shaping in Europe, I never got bothered about its Hindi name, in my mother-tongue. And now, I came to know that the name we called it by had no rational to exist.

And it was not that only the kids (including me) in my family called it so or only our vendor told us so or only our elders passed on the name, everyone in our locality and acquaintances were familiar with this Hindi name only.

So, it was baffling on how come this Bombay connection came into the picture and made its place in memories of many childhoods and in an area far away from Bombay?

Anyway, I will try to find it later and also the possible fairytale behind it. Now is the time to wind up the writing and finish the new book by Henry Kissinger.


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


It is the 13th anniversary of 9/11, a terror attack 13 years ago that still symbolizes how audacious and incisively painful terrorism can be.

And after 13 years of the attack, a series of multiples assaults on the concept of ‘America’, the only superpower of the world in 2001, on September 11, the threat of terrorism has grown more organized, sponsored and bloodthirsty.

The war theaters were not so many in the world back in 2001. The global geopolitical theaters were acting and moving in the routine of a post Cold War world.

It was more or less in routine, except the elements propagated by the two superpowers to further their interests in different parts of the worlds – in different regimes – the so-called fighters against intruders, the Mujahidin, the rebels, and the dictators – all trained, armed and propped up by these two superpowers and their allies – in the post Cold War world, many of these elements were left aimless – when they were still armed and were looking for the next target to hit.

It was more or less in routine, except the ‘now free’ elements were seeing more and more of their upcoming action-zones from a religious spectacle.

It was more or less in routine, except the many so-called allies of both the sides were without the ‘active’ patronage now and the dictators in many of them started taking decisions independently, something that they had never done when they were allied either to this or that camp of the Cold War world.

It was more or less in routine, except that the only superpower of the world then, the US, had no challenging threat, and thus had the greater ease to reread and reinterpret its bilateral, multilateral and geopolitical concerns and it did err in reading and rewriting some of the equations.

All these not-so-routine events after the Cold War were the shaping elements of what we know today as Islamic Terrorism. A religion never teaches to fight; still religions were used as the organizational principles.

And all these not-so-routine events after the Cold War culminated in 9/11.

But, as we see today, that culmination was just the beginning. Yes, being the only true superpower, the US has been successful in averting any other big terror attack on its soil, but the world has grown more terror-prone, more insecure, with many more civil wars, with many more war-theaters now.

Afghanistan is still unstable with the Taliban threatening a comeback as the international forces are pulling out. For records, the Taliban were forced out in 2001 but they were never out. Together with Pakistan, the region is one of the most fertile grounds for terrorism.

Iraq could never recover from the 2003 invasion and in spite of the international forces and a government supported with it, the effort was never sufficient to give Iraq what was promised when Saddam Hussain was declared a demon.

Libya is the similar sorry story. Sad to say, but it looked more peaceful and organized under a dictator than now. No global power looks concerned about Yemen and Bahrain. After experiments supported by the international pressure, Egypt is again back to the military rule effectively. Then there are spreading wings of Islamic Terror in countries like Nigeria, Sudan and Somalia.

And the list is not exhaustive. Terrorism today or more aptly to say terrorism in the name of religion, with organized groups, has a far greater reach today and unstable governments and ethnic wars in many of these war-theater countries have allowed the terror groups to grow stronger than or parallel to many of the governments, like in Nigeria, like in Somalia, like in Libya, like in Syria and like in Iraq.

And with the mess in Syria and Iraq now, again a situational outcome of the selfish geopolitical concerns and some pathetically indecisive moments of the global powers that opposed a dictator but didn’t do anything to support the rebels except showing them mirage and thus pushing them to the warzone, the terror threat is reaching above the warning levels with emergence of probably the deadliest and most powerful of the organized terror groups yet, the Islamic State (IS), also known as ISIS or ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria/Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

US President Barack Obama has vowed today to destroy the ISIS and extend the theaters of operations beyond Iraq, to Syria, after ISIS openly challenged the US might by killing two of the captive US citizens.

But even Obama knows it is not going to be that easy. ISIS may be much stronger but we need to remember it is still an Al Qaeda offshoot. And Al Qaeda didn’t die with Osama bin Laden in 2011. Laden had died much earlier, when he chose to live a solitary, hidden life. But the ideology lived and grew to engulf more regions of the Muslim world. Almost of the major terror groups today have their origins in Al Qaeda. Many others have affiliations and collaborations with it. And the vast swaths of the unstable Muslim world are fast becoming their sanctuary.

Terrorism is more organized, sponsored and bloodthirsty now, more than ever.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Three different states were created in 2000. Two have been failed by their politicians. Another new state has been created this year and the way it is heading, it looks to join the league of Uttarakhand and Jharkhand in the years to come.

The sad story and the sad story ahead – it’s all about the political leadership and the Telangana baton has slipped to the hands of a dynast it seems. He is reaping much more than what he sowed, when by the spirit of democracy – that should never be the case – something that has seldom been the case in India.

He is the chief minister. His son is minister. His nephew is minister. His daughter is a member of the Parliament (MP). And he defends it. And he justifies it.

All in the name of democracy and threaten to bury the voices, the media voices who, in his interpretation, insult Telangana.

And he vociferously goes undemocratic in doing so, assuming the role of courts and other watchdog agencies in deciding and acting on culpability, the traits of a political dynast, who always sees himself above the people who are the real currency of his authority.

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The mind was jammed, crammed with desires, rammed by emotions..
The feeling was jagged, struck with denials, left numb by distractions..
The soul was berated, sour with betrayals, exploited by obligations..


Something stalled and at crossroads, was silent, trying not to speak..
Everything was in grey, extremes had melted away, leaving the peak..
It was eponymous, reflecting and deflecting, with much more to seek..


The life slipped to a track, to the undecided, to the unseen, expecting..
The texture was altered by the heat, its direction consistently swaying..
The questions were confused, the answers emotionally reverberating..


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –