Sunday View: The Best Weekend Opinion Reads, Curated Just For You

We sifted through the papers and found the best opinion reads, so you wouldn’t have to.

6 min read

Anti-Incumbency May Spur State Election Surprises

“Analysts underestimate the strength of anti-incumbency. This is strong in difficult economic conditions, and Covid has wrecked the economy, though recovery has begun”, writes SA Aiyar for The Times of India. To contradict the anti-incumbency theory, Aiyar notes that analysts emphasise Narendra Modi’s spectacular re-election with increased seats in the 2019 general election, and Nitish Kumar’s retention of power in Bihar in 2020.

“In sum, anti-incumbency runs strong regardless of parties. This owes something to the halving of economic growth between 2016-17 and 2019-20. In the 1990s, when economic growth was uneven, three quarters of incumbents lost elections. Then in the economic boom of the 2000s, three-quarters of incumbents began winning. A new breed of chief ministers in backward states combined a clean image with accelerated economic growth. Growth slowed in the 2010s, and anti-incumbency rose again”
SA Aiyar for The Times of India

A New Darling Of The BJP

“The Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, seems to have suddenly turned into a darling of the current Bharatiya Janata Party regime”, writes the Editorial Board of The Telegraph.

From a known LK Advani loyalist, Chouhan now is seen as one of the most preferred CMs of the party leadership, and is competing with the Uttar Pradesh CM, Yogi Adityanath, in terms of canvassing for the party in the ongoing polls in five states, notes the Editorial Board.

Word is that Chouhan is being pitched to undercut the emergence of Adityanath. The saffron-clad UP CM is in demand for campaigning in poll-bound states. There are fears over his increasing national popularity, particularly among the BJP’s core Hindutva voters. Those whispering are scared to name the leader who is feeling threatened by the rise of the monk.
Editorial Board of The Telegraph

Modi Thought And Its Consequences

"The BJP has high stakes in Assam and West Bengal and is making a desperate effort to get a toehold in the other three places", says P Chidambaram in his column for The Indian Express. He opines that “while the results of the elections in the four states are of immediate interest, the larger question is how will the country be governed in the three remaining years of the BJP government at the Centre”.

“Compassion for the poor and the middle classes is totally absent: examples are the extortionate prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas and the heartless slashing of interest rates on small savings when inflation is printing at 6 per cent and is expected to rise.The million dollar question is, will the results of the elections reinforce these basic principles of Modi Thought or will they cause a shake-up of the government and the ruling party?”
P Chidambaram in his column for The Indian Express

Seeking Support, Denying Representation

“If parties want the support of women voters, then they owe it to women to create enabling conditions for them to progress through the political system and have a say in political decision-making”, writes Lalita Panicker for the Hindustan Times.

Panicker notes that this can be done with ease by identifying women at the local level who have done well. She recommends throwing the party’s resources and weight behind the women at grassroots, instead of “fobbing them off with patriarchal condescension and getting the women’s vote through freebies”.

“The scenario at the local government level is very different in all these states, especially Kerala and Tamil Nadu, where women are coming to the fore and bridging the gender gap. Part of the reason is reservations, but affirmative action ends at that level. Beyond that, women encounter structural and discriminatory barriers; they are denied tickets, primarily on the ground that they supposedly lack the winnability factor. The fact that the AIADMK had a woman leader, or that the Congress continues to have strong women leaders, has made little difference”
Lalita Panicker for Hindustan Times

Left-wing, Right-wing Or Chicken Wing, Taste Is The Real Political Test

“While the slogan ‘The personal is political’ has developed over time to empower gender, gay, minority rights, its corollary, ‘The political is personal’ has been left unrecognised”, writes Indrajit Hazra for the Times of India. Hazra opines about the factors that come into play when liking or disliking, approving or disapproving a political product — which essentially comes in two packages: parties, and party leaders.

“Like non-working class Britons taking to a fake cockney accent (mockney) to appear cool — staunchly upper-middle class Mick Jagger and Jamie Oliver being famous examples — many of India’s English-speaking upper-middle classes, too, find the BJPesthetics of Hindu-Hindi to be ‘quite wonderful’, couching this neo-Orientalist fascination with hopes of the coming of a ‘Reaganomics’ or ‘Thatcherism’ in ’indoostan. Many self-styled liberal secularists find this equally abhorrent, spotting ‘fascist tones’ in everything from anyone showing a fondness towards cows or vegetarianism to a Tulsidas bhajan”
Indrajit Hazra for the Times of India


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to Mahua Moitra, is catcalling CM Mamata Banerjee whenever he drawls ‘Didi-O-Didi’. Modi, according to Upala Sen’s article for The Telegraph, is heckling a political rival and the rest is unfortunate culturally misplaced intonation. Sen opines that in the frenzied grab for Bengal, politicians have predictably and generously traded in gendered slights.

“Everyone knows, when pushed to a corner, society will berate women for characteristics /roles/physiognomy/instincts, typically in the absence of which you wouldn’t be able to tell apart one gender from another”, writes Sen.

“If talking women are a problem, women who keep their counsel are also not to be left alone. Goongi gudiya was the name given to Indira Gandhi by socialist icon Ram Manohar Lohiya. In 2019, an MLA from the ruling BJP in Uttar Pradesh said BSP chief Mayawati was “worse than a transgender”. And Congress ally and PRP leader Jaydeep Kawade remarked about the BJP’s Smriti Irani: “She wears a big bindi on her forehead and someone told me that when a woman changes her husband frequently, the size of her bindi keeps growing.” The late Left leader Subhas Chakraborty had ridiculed Mamata’s Maa-Mati-Manush slogan saying, “She is an infertile woman; what does she know about Ma.”
Upala Sen for The Telegraph

Is Peace With Pakistan Possible?

"From an Indian perspective, the removal of Article 370 became necessary because it had served mostly to give Kashmiri Muslims the false impression that secession was still a possibility”, writes Tavleen Singh for The Indian Express. Talking about Pakistan’s recent interest in importing Indian sugar and cotton, Singh notes that it indicates a revival of trade between the neighbouring countries even if diplomatic relations remain suspended.

“For a very long time now it is not basic democratic rights and special autonomy that Kashmiri secessionist groups have been fighting violently for. The cause has become the establishment of Shariat in the Valley, and to do this, young men have been recruited in much the same way that the Islamic State recruited their jihadists. It is madness to believe that any Indian prime minister, leave alone Narendra Modi, could allow the creation of an Islamist state within the borders of India”
Tavleen Singh for The Indian Express

Reliving Those Days Of Epic Uncertainty

"Twelve months ago, the prospect of a vaccine was a pipe dream”, writes Leher Kala for The Indian Express. She opines that COVID has been perspective altering, especially when it comes to how one think about time, and in actuality, “human ingenuity has ensured there are a variety of vaccines — a mere twelve months later”.

“A century back Lord Curzon had famously observed that the Government of India is a mighty and miraculous machine for doing nothing. Despite monumental challenges, when the systems work it’s only because of foot soldiers who have the thankless job of executing ill-conceived policy. When this catastrophic time is over and scholars are analysing State response, the humble endeavour for future disaster planning should be that in situations when you’re unable to ease citizens’ burdens, at least don’t make things worse”
Leher Kala for The Indian Express

Wolf Warrior’s Day

“China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy has flabbergasted its critics in Western foreign policy establishments”, writes Mukul Kesavan for The Telegraph. For China’s leadership, communism and capitalism weren’t ideological choices, opines Kesavan adding that they were alternative means to a single ideological end: the restoration of Chinese supremacy.

“China’s position on Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang has been remarkably consistent. All of these issues are ‘internal issues’ for China to sort out and foreign commentary and criticism are unacceptable interference. This is not just boilerplate about sovereignty: this is a viscerally felt, historically conditioned reflex: China was attacked, defeated, exploited, balkanized and pillaged by predatory colonial States, from the Opium War to the savage Japanese occupation of the 1930s and 1940s. The idea that a country like Great Britain can haul China over the coals for its treatment of dissent in Hong Kong, a port that it held as a colonial possession in living memory, is seen as an outrage”
Mukul Kesavan for The Telegraph
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