Is the Assam verdict assuring enough to get complacent over BJP’s chances and challenges in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state in India with maximum Lok Sabha and assembly seats and therefore with the maximum count of Rajya Sabha claims?

Has BJP not committed blunder by appointing Keshav Prasad Maurya, a Lok Sabha MP from Phulpur constituency in Allahabad district, a virtually unknown face in the power corridors so far, either in Uttar Pradesh, or in Delhi?

Couldn’t BJP find a known face in Uttar Pradesh? Irrespective of credentials and controversies associated with Keshav Prasad Maurya, it goes without saying that even many supporters of BJP did not know much about him before his coronation.

Are the credentials of being an OBC, his association with RSS and hailing from a humble background enough to mobilize votes in India’s most populous state where the ruling party of India of the day was forced to the third spot with a meagre 47 seats out of 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh? Also, Uttar Pradesh is the state from where BJP began its journey to where it is in India’s political circles now.

And what about the baggage Maurya carries? He may have a humble background, but now he is a millionaire with multiple criminal cases lodged against him. His 2014 Lok Sabha affidavit declared assets worth Rs. 9 crore. To name a few, he has a filling station and a private hospital in partnership. Certainly not a saleable package politically (and electorally)!

Before appointing Mauyra, did BJP factor in why it performed so brilliantly in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning 73 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state, and why it has lost every subsequent bye-election in the state?

Although it is slipping beyond any possible damage control exercise now, has the BJP introspected about why it ignored Uttar Pradesh since winning the state in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls?

A natural corollary to the previous question is – are the BJP strategists, including Narendra Modi, Amit Shah and the RSS leadership, confident enough that they have sufficient time to regain the lost ground and so to reclaim the state – nine odd months now – when the assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh are to be held?

A sub-question to that is – does BJP feel honestly that is has lost the much ground it gained during the Lok Sabha polls in 2014? That is the key to do any exercise that it intends to do now – to map the trajectory ahead.

It is beyond speculation that Keshav Prasad Maurya cannot be the BJP’s chief-ministerial nominee. Although he hails from the Kushwaha community (OBC), that forms around 8% of Uttar Pradesh’s population, he is simply not magnetic enough to pull a significant chunk of OBC voters from a population segments that is 40% of the total. What is then the basis of projecting him as the OBC face of BJP in Uttar Pradesh?

Can Keshav Prasad Maurya successfully play the OBC card by equating himself with prime minister Narendra Modi, an OBC and a Chaiwala like him (as Maurya claims), given the fact that BJP has not performed well, in Jayapur, Varanasi’s village adopted by Narendra Modi where BJP lost local village polls recently and in Varanasi, Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency?

And the natural extension to all this is – who will then be the BJP’s chief-ministerial nominee? Obviously, it should be someone from the upper caste communities who have been traditional BJP voters. The upper caste voters were an important factor behind Mayawati’s caste/social engineering in 2007 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh that gave her complete majority. This time also, Mayawati and her party BSP are ahead in the race, as the projections so far say, and therefore, retaining upper caste voters will be a problem for BJP, especially when its new state president has replaced a Brahmin, Laxmikant Bajpai from Meerut. Names of claimants are already doing rounds – Varun Gandhi or Smriti Irani or even Rajnath Singh – or will it be someone else? Certainly, here Amit Shah cannot prop anyone like Keshav Prasad Maurya and it is going to be a difficult decision to take.

And these are just the primary questions BJP needs to introspect before beginning on any activity in Uttar Pradesh. The party needs to take a top-down approach here because there isn’t enough time left for reorganization (and restructuring) of the party and the party should hope it works for bottom-up issues – like galvanizing cadres and district units – to do their best for the names the party finalizes.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



— Is the ‘Spiral of Silence’ coming into its own in India now?

— Is the 2004 General Election a beginning point to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ in action in India?

— How is social media shaping the ‘Public Sphere’ discourse in India?

— Is India the next big leap for a socially relevant social media after the Arab Spring?

— India shows even the robust democracies can be the perfect social laboratories for the ‘Spiral of Silence’ expressions?

— Are elections the best avenues to see the ‘Spiral of Silence’ patterns in a democracy that has loads of greys?

— Is the Indian democracy caught in a dilemma between being politically correct Vs being politically relevant Vs being politically apolitical Vs being apolitically political?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



— How really smart a smartphone is?

— Should your smartphone be smart enough to make you look dumb?

— How long should the life of your smartphone be?

— Should there be a mental barrier on how much you should spend for a smartphone?

— What should be your upper mental barrier on the pricing front when you are looking for a new smartphone?

— Do smartphones with sky-high prices justify with smartness of their tech specs or it is just about that premium brand you are ready to pay for? In that case, you need to think if you are really smart enough?

— On an average, what percentage of a high-end smartphone features are fully used?

— What should be the line you need to draw between you and your smartphone usage habits?

— Should your smartphone be Hulk or Batwoman – the gigantic, ever-enlarging screens – or that four-inch or so curvaceous comfort?

— Should your smartphone be Barack Obama or Xi Jinping – should it add spontaneously to you – or should it make you cautious to add it to your lifestyle?



©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



The JNU row (Jawaharlal Nehru University) has debased to such lows that we seriously need to ask questions – on the whole socio-political milieu prevailing at the moment:

— That what was and what would be the right approach – to let the incident pass by taking strict disciplinary action against the erring students? – or making a fuss about it to the level that it has now escalated to the extent to threaten the academic atmosphere in many other universities?

Obviously, the sane and the logical voices would say a disciplinary action would be enough to address the issue – if at all it was needed – or that it would be precisely in course to ignore the event because it was not a majority view there, in fact just a handful of students were for it, and it was not the first time in JNU.

— Was it a case fit for police intervention? Now, after a week of row and its spread to other universities, we can safely say NO. In the age-groupthe  of being students, we all are impulsive, reactive, susceptible to sentiments and above all, we question ethos if we don’t conform to them – even if it means airing our views about the state, about its affairs. Being a student should be about that. We need to get outraged and speak our mind whenever we see something wrong. That is permissible within the democratic norms – something that is even the top custodian of the Indian Constitution, the Supreme Court of India, accepts – saying unless words incite action, it is not a fit case for imposing sedition laws. We may be wrong, like here these ‘pro Afzal Guru’ protesters were, but then there were other possible means to handle the situation than a police intervention.

— That if the administration was hell-bent on ‘improving’ the situation, sanitizing JNU of anti-national elements? If it was so, and no problem in that, then why did the Delhi Police act so late. Reports say the Delhi Police had information prior to the event.

— What were they waiting for? If the Delhi Police can proactively raid a government run canteen (Kerala House beef controversy) in the name of taking precautionary measures to prevent any untoward incident in the name of beef politics, why didn’t they do so here?

— Since February 9, it was JNU. Since yesterday, it is Jadavpur University. University of Hyderabad is also delicately balanced at the moment. Now, in the name of taking tough action on the so-called ‘anti-national’ elements in our university system, in our academic institutions, aren’t we risking something much more insane – something that would vitiate the academic atmosphere by dividing students along the lines of differing ideologies?

Universities must be the first place in any society to inculcate a culture of debate with differing voices and ideologies and the emphasis should be on developing in-built mechanisms to address voices of extreme like the ‘pro Afzal Guru’ event of JNU. There were just handful of students (10-15), and even that is not sure that if they all were from JNU, and their voice would never matter in the whole group of over 7000 JNU students.

— Aren’t all political parties culprit of adding fuel to the fire? From Arvind Kejriwal to Rahul Gandhi to senior BJP and Congress politicians to Mayawati to Nitish Kumar to Omar Abdullah and all others including the natural claimants, the Left parties with their legacy in JNU, who made statements or visited JNU to take sides – everyone is responsible to make what JNU has become today – since February 9 – and what University of Jadavpur is becoming since yesterday.

— Aren’t we all to share the blame? Aren’t we all instilling fear in minds of our students? Aren’t we all forcing our students to take extreme steps like Rohith Vemula did or like the three students of a Villupuram allied medical college did or like a Ph.D. scholar in Central University of Rajasthan who committed suicides after harassment from his research guide? Incidents like JNU crackdown or policies that make vice-chancellors excessively powerful are solely responsible and therefore it is the system that is behind such events or policies.

— Did the police act politically? Did the police act in haste? Did the Delhi Police make the matters worse? Yes, in fact, it is the Delhi Police that is primarily responsible for making this much of something that was initially nothing. And they have continued with their charade. They found an anti-national in Kanhaiya Kumar, the JNU Students Union president, very conveniently and arrested him but they have conveniently ignored the goondaism and lawlessness of some of the lawyers, an spectacle that has been on obscene display since yesterday thrashing Kanhaiya Kumar, his supporters and journalists including women – in the name of nationalism or patriotism. But like the ultra-leftist (DSU, the Democratic Students Union in this case), we also don’t need these ultra-nationalists. And the list of such bravados includes a BJP MLA. Things are on tape, recorded. The BJP MLA and the goons in the garb of lawyers are openly airing their views but the Delhi Police is still investigating, even if the Supreme Court reacted angrily on the lawlessness on display at the Patiala House Courts complex.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


1. Why men fear women presence in innermost religious circles?

2. Is religion not the most primitive tool to maintain male domination in the society?

3. Will tomorrow be a bitter standoff at the Shani temple in Shingnapur village in the Ahmednagar district of Maharastra?

4. Is it just another political spectacle or a sincere part of a the lager fight in gender discrimination?

5. Women activists are planning to storm the Shani Shingnapur temple tomorrow and women of the village and the nearby villages are preparing to stop them. There are reports of multi-layered security around the sanctum sanctorum and if we go by them, the planned break in by the protesting group of women look unlikely. And when the issue is already in the Supreme Court, why this haste?

6. There are many taboos humiliating and restricting women rights in our society and this is one of them – a practice that is socially acceptable that even majority of women endorse it. In fact, here in this case, women are prepared to block women. Is confrontation a logical way to break such a taboo then?

7. It is not restricted to any particular religion. In fact, women have been historically denied their religious rights – and the problem is acute in religions like Islam or Hinduism or in different tribal sects. So what should be the road ahead to work on such massive problems that sweep societies across countries?

8. Or there cannot be any laid-out/defined strategy. The problem will be taken care of by progresses made in civilizations or by evolutionary changes?

9. But then, aren’t we already overdoing it? We have commoditized women for long, making them second class citizens. That was the case even in the advanced societies like the US not so long ago. In fact, the most powerful nation in the world is yet to have a woman president.

10. So, what should be the priority then – while intensifying the fight for the just demand of religious equality – a multi-pronged approach involving legal, social and political measures?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



1. What do we call it – Seshachalam encounter or Chittoor Encounter or Tirupati Encounter?

2. So far, the names doing the rounds are Chittoor Encounter and Tirupati Encounter. The ‘alleged’ encounter took place in Seshachalam forests in Chittoor district. Incidentally, the forests surround the Tirupati city that falls in Chittoor district. So, where should the semiotics go? Or, the name doesn’t matter given the scale of the calamity?

3. Should it be termed an encounter or a massacre? Is it a genocide, a stage-managed encounter or a police cleansing operation aimed at the cleaning the society?

4. Did the police do its job? Cannot it separate a woodcutter from a red-sandalwood smuggler? Incidentally, all of those dead are woodcutters, with relatives crying hoarse over their death.

5. The Red Sanders Anti-Smuggling Task Force (RSASTF) of Andhra Pradesh Police, the elite unit – how can it be do dumb and anti-human in killing so many people while none of its members are even seriously injured?

6. How can RSASTF explain decomposed bodies and red-sandalwood logs with white paints and code found at the encounter site?

7. Going by the precedent of Indian policing, there are chances that it is yet another stage-managed encounter, but with an abnormally high death toll. Can we buy the statement of a major person attached with the ground level-ops that they were so well prepared that the smugglers couldn’t harm them?

8. Irrespective of which side is the truth in this case, the police botched it up and botched it up bad. There are 20 dead and they are called smugglers by a police unit with no one injured. Going by the past, security personnel have been killed regularly by red-sanders? Who will buy the police statement then?

9. It was in a dense forest, some 10 Kms from human habitation that the encounters took place. In such circumstances and going by the past history, it is quite bizarre to note it down that police party escaped unharmed and smugglers also chose to attack a fully equipped a police unit with archaic weapons – stones, sickles, axes in this case. Smugglers chose to take on a fully equipped party with archaic weapons only, and that too in a forest, and all policemen escaped unharmed. The whole sequence of events is bizarre, isn’t it?

10. As expected, it has created tension between two states – all the slain are from Tamil Nadu – and the cops are from an elite unit of Andhra Pradesh Police. Aren’t we staring at yet another issue of tussle between two states that will take a long time to resolve?

11. Rights groups from both states as well as the national and international bodies have taken note of the incident. NHRC (National Human Rights Commission) has taken suo moto cognizance. Hearing a petition to launch CBI inquiry into the case, the High Court today asked the Andhra Pradesh government to file a written submission in the case within two days. Amnesty International has written on it. A storm is brewing that is to snowball in coming days. Isn’t is going to cost dear to the RSASTF and therefore the state government?

12. No one from the state government so far has taken the ‘responsibility’ or ‘laurels’ except the officials directly involved in it. A magisterial probe has been ordered. Chandrababu Naidu is tight-lipped. Ministry of Home Affair at Centre has been briefed by him. Tamil Nadu CM O. Panneerselvam is demanding a ‘credible’ probe. Opposition parties and Andhra Pradesh and political parties in Tamil Nadu have created a big issue over the ‘alleged’ encounter and it is going to get heightened as more and more truth comes out. Is the episode a setback for Chandrababu Naidu? Is he dealing with the another ‘Hashimpura’ with South India’s biggest encounter of the history?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –



1. Ajay Maken’s realization – from ‘we will score and spring a surprise’ to ‘we will respect the mandate and would play whatever role public would want us to’ – even before the results are out – has Congress accepted its doom in Delhi’s politics after the projections of exit polls which did not give the party more than five seats? Some polls even said the party would fail to win even a single seat.

2. Is Delhi the next or yet another marker in the downward journey of the Congress party? It has already been pushed to the margins of Bihar’s politics, where elections are due later this year, and ‘becoming politically irrelevant in Delhi’ would exacerbate the process of the party becoming irrelevant in other states as well.

3. After scoring a historic low in Lok Sabha polls with just 44 seats, Congress performed even more miserably in different assembly polls of 2014. In Andhra Pradesh, it could not open its account. In Telangana, the state it created to reap its act’s political windfall, it was down by 30 seats to 21 seats in the 119 member strong assembly. In Odisha, it could win only 16 of 147. In Maharashtra, where it ruled for three terms, the party came third with 41 seats of 288. After ruling Haryana, it was pushed to the third spot with only 15 seats. Similar stories were repeated in Jharkhand and J&K where the party came fourth with abysmally low numbers. In further misery, reports from Jharkhand today said that four of the six Jharkhand Congress MLAs were joining BJP. Add Delhi debacle to the list. Is the grand fall of the Grand Old Party of India is proving unstoppable?

4. Congress was expected to spring some surprise, not only by the estimates of Congress, but by others as well. What can explain this rout then?

5. Even the candidates who were expected to win based on their name and work – like Ajay Maken or A K Walia – if even they lose – what would it tell about the scale of the fall of the Congress party?

6. Ajay Maken is Congress General Secretary and heads party’s communication wing. Sources say he would resign from both the posts in case he loses the assembly polls. Is it a mere posturing as running short of people to man the organization and Maken being in good books of Rahul Gandhi, the party would not let him go?

7. This type of posturing after poll debacles where some people take responsibility and others speak to exonerate them – will it take Congress to its ultimate political doom?

8. How would Delhi further dent Congress’s prospects on its organizational spread? Even the candidates who could have won are expected to lose because they are Congress candidates – is Congress staring at split, defections and mass exodus in coming days?

9. The last time when we heard of Congress in Delhi politics was in December 2013 assembly polls that were being seen as a BJP Vs Congress contest. But after the polls, the underdog, Aam Aadmi Party, replaced Congress by emerging as the second largest party and went on to form the government with Congress’s support who could win just 8 seats. Now, just after an year, AAP is expected to sweep Delhi, even with its deserter tag and Kejriwal’s act of betrayal that left Delhi without a government for a year. Has AAP effectively taken over the political constituency of Congress in Delhi?

10. AAP sweeping Delhi tells the party would eat into votes of BJP also if it indeed wins 45 to 50 seats. Segments that voted for Modi in Lok Sabha and assembly polls – middle class and youth – have voted for AAP according to the exit polls data. The lower income groups were already in its fold. Muslims in these polls have voted en-masse for AAP. Muslims and lower income groups have traditionally been voting for Congress forming the major chunk of its ‘secular plank’. As AAP has given a credible alternative to voters in Delhi, appealing to every section of the society, building thus a secular plank, and as AAP spreads beyond Delhi, something that is bound to happen if the exit polls come true, wouldn’t Congress face an existential threat to its ‘secular plank’ nationally, and thus an existential threat to its political survival?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–



After the Exit Poll results on February 7, the day of voting..

1. Was BJP always in two minds on its chances in Delhi and that ultimately resulted in the mess that we saw in these assembly polls, as it could really never assess its ground properly and that made it try to delay the Delhi polls until polls became inevitable? Assembly polls could have been held soon after the Lok Sabha polls. Instead, BJP chose to keep on delaying the polls. Let’s safely assume that had the BJP’s central leadership decided on facing the polls earlier, the Lieutenant-Governor nod, with L-G being a central government appointee and representative, would never be an issue.

2. The natural question that emerges from this is – what made BJP feel so, not sure of its chances – especially after a brilliant history making performance in the Lok Sabha polls?

3. The natural corollary, in turn to the previous question is – did the BJP believe, in spite of making a war-cry about it in public, that the ‘deserter act’ was not enough to put Kejriwal in the dock of an incriminating public trial? Going by the projections of the Exit Polls, it seems BJP was right, if its leaders indeed thought so.

4. That takes us spontaneously to the next question – if it was so, if BJP was not confident about the ‘the deserter tag card’, why didn’t it build an alternate strategy to corner Kejriwal? Throughout the campaign run, the main point to target Kejriwal was ‘his deserter act’ mixed with ‘alleged acts of anarchy by Kejriwal and his camp like protests against an elected government’ .

5. So, where did BJP err – in calculating the anti-Kejriwal or anti-AAP public sentiment – or in assessing the ground beneath its feat in Delhi’s politics – or in both?

6. Or was it an act of sheer negligence, fuelled by over-confidence? Winning the Lok Sabha polls with clear majority, first party to do so after 1984, and winning three assembly polls in quick succession, Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and emerging as the second largest party in Jammu & Kashmir – did the confidence thereafter make Delhi a light affair for BJP strategists who believed things could be managed but when they realized the seriousness of affairs, of their faulty handling of Delhi elections, it had become too late to reverse the tide?

7. Who are all responsible for this negligence? Would BJP do an honest introspection to plug the holes given the fact that an AAP sweep would be an underperformance by BJP and would hurt party’s chances in cracking the citadels of electoral politics in India – Bihar this year, West Bengal the next year and Uttar Pradesh in 2017. Losing these three states would make a 2019 re-run much more difficult for Narendra Modi and BJP.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–



After the Exit Poll results on February 7, the day of voting..

1. Did keeping on postponing Delhi polls for so long help AAP regain the lost ground after Kejriwal’s ‘deserter act’ leaving Delhi just after 49 days of governance to pursue the national political agenda?

2. Did BJP fail in exploiting electorally the ‘deserter act episode’? Did the party fail in convincing Delhi’s electorate that Kejriwal did something so seriously wrong that he was not to be forgiven for another chance?

3. Was BJP over-confident and was caught off-guard to take on challenges when the Abhinandan Rally of January 10 to launch BJP’s Delhi campaign (with Narendra Modi being the face of the rally) failed to bring the expected number of people to Ramlila Ground?

4. Did an Arvind Kejriwal-focused campaigning help Kejriwal cement his position further? Kejriwal was already the most popular CM candidate and an all-out attack on him while he chose not to respond to the personal attacks looks to have backfired.

5. Was the decision to induct Kiran Bedi in BJP was taken too late? The reports of Kiran Bedi joining BJP had been doing rounds since before the Lok Sabha polls and Kiran Bedi had been praising prime minister Narendra Modi on his every move. Would an earlier induction have played out differently for BJP and Kiran Bedi in Delhi?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–



After the results of the final rounds of opinion polls of some major agencies on February 3..

1. Narendra Modi says we will prove the pre-poll surveys wrong by winning Delhi. On the same day, February 4, a day after the final round of many opinion polls gave Aam Aadmi Party a clear majority, Venkaiah Naidu says ‘Delhi polls not a referendum on Modi government’s performance’. First signs of growing realization within Bhartiya Janata Party that it may not yet again form the government in Delhi?

2. Is there really a positive swing for AAP in the Delhi assembly polls?

3. BJP was ahead in pre-poll projections in December and January. If so, what changed from January to February?

4. BJP was clearly ahead in December round of pre-poll surveys. It led even many of January surveys. But in the final round of surveys in February, AAP is way ahead and is projected to get clear majority, building on the gains that it made in late January surveys. Did BJP fail in gauging moods to fine tune its campaigning strategy?

5. Does Delhi’s voters’ profile – largely made of poor, middle class and youth – along with Muslims – restricted in a limited geographical stretch of high population density having thus greater information access on developments happening in real time – make it possible for this rapid change, thus making it acceptable to us by the goings of the moment?

6. What happened in January that BJP started slipping so rapidly?

7. Why did BJP fail to capitalize on Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘deserter act’ that left Delhi without a government for a year when he resigned just after 49 days in office with a clearly lame reason, or no reason at all – the central theme of the campaigning of Kejriwal’s opponents?

8. Or the ‘deserter act’ was blown out of proportion given the fact that AAP had registered an increase in its vote share in Delhi in Lok Sabha polls from its assembly polls performance in December 2013?

9. Was para-dropping Kiran Bedi just 22 days before the polls was too little, too late to take on a CM candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, who remained the first choice of majority of voters for CM even when BJP was being projected to win Delhi – in earlier rounds of opinion polls?

10. Was para-dropping Kiran Bedi, an outsider, a tactical blunder that alienated BJP’s Delhi leadership and local party workers?

11. BJP began its campaigning in a negative mode, focusing on targeting AAP and Kejriwal while the development related promises were pushed to periphery. With time, it got louder. Has that harmed BJP, helping thus AAP and Arvind Kejriwal?

12. What role did the BJP’s conditional campaign or campaign focusing heavily on a conditional proposition play in BJP’s dull show – that the voters should vote for BJP if they have see a developed Delhi as it would facilitate the coordination between union government and the government in Delhi? Did they refuse to buy it in the world’s largest democracy?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–