Election Watch

  1. BJP’s fixation with TMC defectors sees party shoot itself in the foot in Singur, reports Shoaib Daniyal
  2. In Assam, the Congress fought hard – but will it be enough to dislodge the BJP? asks Arunabh Saikia
  3. Will Pinarayi Vijayan’s popularity give Kerala its first re-elected government in decades?
  4. Minority votes, BJP, Vanniyar quota: What will be the deciding factor in the AIADMK vs DMK battle?

Weekend Reads

  1. “Police FIRs that cut and paste key details across different locations; detention orders signed by District Magistrates that show “non-application of mind”; denial of due process to the accused; repeated use of the law to block bail – in case after case, the Allahabad High Court has red-flagged the way the UP government has used the draconian National Security Act which gives the state powers to arrest without formal charge or trial,” reports Kaunain Sheriff M.
  2. “If there’s a lockdown again, I will have to borrow money to survive, and then spend all of next year paying it off. I can’t keep doing this, and so I am planning to go back home.” Somya Lakhani reports on how migrant workers are leaving cities for their homes again.
  3. A decade on, please admit it, India: You were duped. “India Against Corruption” was nothing of the sort. It was a vehicle for personal ambitions, of Arvind Kejriwal in particular; it was an arena for middle-class play-acting at protest; it was an operation to discredit the government and reposition the Bharatiya Janata Party, riddled with corruption scandals of its own, as pure,” writes Mihir S Sharma.
  4. Narsinghanand has called for murder and genocide. So why isn’t he behind bars yet? ask Alishan Jafri and Apoorvanand.
  5. “Facing a serious organisational deficit [in West Bengal], the BJP has ended up relying on the very elites against whom popular anger has been palpable. Underplaying this point under the garb of subaltern support for the BJP is where analysts have gone wrong,” write Sourav Ray Barman and Pratim Ghoshal.
  6. “More Hindu vigilante attacks against Muslims with ‘love jihad’ or cattle smuggling as a pretext have been reported in the first three months of 2021 than over the past three years in prosperous, literate Mangaluru,” reports Mohit Rao. “Activists, police and even vigilantes concur that aim is to build pressure for a state law discouraging inter-faith marriage.”
  7. Electoral bonds were born. And transparency died,” writes SY Quraishi. “Till then every transaction of more than Rs 20,000 was reported to the Election Commission. Now even Rs 20 crore or Rs 200 crore could be donated anonymously. The reason given was that the donors want secrecy.”
  8. “Unless the Quad is perceived to be cutting into its core strategic advantages, Beijing is unlikely to feel compelled to dial back its disputes with the four states and their regional supporters. Consequently, the Quad members should work to produce tangible goods for other countries in the Indo-Pacific to advance their own national interests and to possibly modify China’s assertive and antagonistic posture,” writes Joel Wuthnow.
  9. “Now Katalin Kariko, 66, known to colleagues as Kati, has emerged as one of the heroes of Covid-19 vaccine development,” reports Gina Kolata. “But for many years her career at the University of Pennsylvania was fragile. She migrated from lab to lab, relying on one senior scientist after another to take her in. She never made more than $60,000 a year.”
  10. “Vaccine grabs, the refusal to relax patents to enable mass production, and the use of vaccines for diplomacy run the risk that poorer nations may not be protected against Covid-19 quickly enough. This will prolong the pandemic, even for the richer nations,” writes Jayati Ghosh.