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Commentary
Saisuresh Sivaswamy

Managing Editor, India Abroad and rediff.com, Saisuresh Sivaswamy began his journalistic career at the Times group in 1985, first at the Times of India before moving on to the Evening News, and then to The Illustrated Weekly of India. After senior editorial assignments at Onlooker, The Indian Post and Mid-Day, he founded the Bombay Tribune and later established the Express Newsline in Mumbai. In between, he also held a senior position at Plus Channel, as associate editor of Business Baatein, and worked for a television software company producing programmes on Star TV.

Vajpayee has lost his moral right   - April 23, 2002
'Vajpayee has shown that he is first the prime minister of the BJP, and only next of India. And even here, not of all the one billion citizens of India, but PM of that section of Hindu Indians who get turned on by the macabre happenings in Gujarat.'

Do we really need the ISI?   - March 7, 2002
'Independent India's recent political history is replete with instances where instant provocation brings to the surface accumulated baggage of pique, resentment and, often, local enmity.'

Brave New World   - September 19, 2001
'Had a tragedy of the enormity of what happened in USA struck India, either there would have been a carnage directed at the Muslim community, or India would have ceded Kashmir without demur.'

Nayak vs Khalnayak   - September 11, 2001
'If at all Indian democracy holds out one valuable lesson, it is this: no ruler in a democracy is going to succeed fighting the system. S/he will have to work within the system in order to wreak the changes that matter.'

Few steps backward   - July 17, 2001
'There is only one issue between the two countries -- Kashmir. If India's stand is going to be that even a discussion is not to be held, then let us all prepare ourselves for the long haul.'

The treacherous road to peace   - June 6, 2001
'What strengthens the chance of peace is that New Delhi is not dealing with a civilian puppet in Islamabad but the face of the military, which alone, is the arbiter of that nation's course.'

The Tau of politics...   - April 13, 2001
'Long before the phrase Big Bull came to be coined by the media, Devi Lal was all that and more. The lessons learnt from him in the one year that he played a prominent role in the central government, won't be forgotten in a hurry.'

Holiday spirit   - April 5, 2001
'The reason why we are where we are is that we as a nation give ourselves far too many holidays. What I think the government should do is identify one holiday from each major religious community, which will be the only holidays during the year.'

Good journalism, bad politics   - March 20, 2001
'The BJP is not doing what Rajiv Gandhi did. He utilised his brute majority in the Lok Sabha to steamroll any reasonable debate on Bofors. And yes, stalwarts of the Opposition who are today railing against the BJP were part of the anti-corruption brigade then, and the contrast between the two governments cannot escape them even if they are blinded by the colour saffron.'

10,00,000 sperms, and these XI?!   - March 13, 2001
'We Indians probably show more passion towards cricket than we do towards even those we love. And yet, for all our troubles, for all our passion, what we get is a spineless display that our gully cricketers would feel mortified by.'

Jaye he!   - March 7, 2001
'Will it be a case of collective amnesia if the Tamil Nadu voter goes with Jayalalitha again? Not really. Even established national parties have sacrificed principles at the altar of political expediency, so why is the voter expected to not be swayed by arguably lower standards?'

Sushma's swaraj   - February 27, 2001
'Does Fashion TV, whose prurience is of a vastly reduced scale than what is peddled on the main avenue of any Indian metropolis, merit the ministerial wrath, especially when this is a land where the sensual, the carnal and the bestial have always co-existed -- as evidenced in the sculptures of Khajuraho or on the murals of any number of temples across India?'

Tears for fears   - February 13, 2001
'Yes, it is truly touching that Musharraf has taken time off to extend a hand of friendship during India's hour of need, but one cannot help feeling that the gesture would have carried more weight if only his other hand were not unleashing the dogs of war into Kashmir at the same time.'

No, Mr Prime Minister   - February 2, 2001
'He should cut the crap and get some things done. He could put systems and infrastructure in place where a natural calamity, or an artificial one, does not hobble the nation.'

The great bath, et al   - January 23, 2001
'If the Sangh associates think their votebank is so fragile that it will bolt to the Congress thanks to Sonia's dip in the Kumbh, imagine their horror if she were to, say, recite the Gayatri mantra!'

Talk of the town   - January 16, 2001
'While it is good that Musharraf is keen on talking to India, he must first ensure that he carries his people with him in ratifying whatever agreement, whenever it is inked. The question for India is more fundamental: what is the point in talking to him if he cannot?'

The BJP's real opposition   - January 4, 2001
'The only credible opposition that Vajpayee faces at the moment is from the RSS and its various outfits. And that, as should be obvious by now, is all part of the family. The saffron family.'

Ayodhya yet again   - December 19, 2000
'Ayodhya is not the demand of the voter, but the demand of the BJP's workforce. The BJP could afford their cries elsewhere in the country -- where anyway it did not amount to much. But with UP, things are entirely different.'

Ayodhya again!   - December 12, 2000
'Yes, the PM has taken sides in a partisan dispute over a conqueror vs native legacy -- and if you took a comprehensive poll in the nation you will be surprised at what its findings are.'

Will Pak first call off the dogs of war?   - December 5, 2000
'It is ironical that the two who have been cast in adversarial moulds actually need each other to realise their ambition. Vajpayee needs Pakistan to win Kashmir, and Musharraf needs New Delhi to pull his nation back from the brink. This is a reality that advisors on both sides of the border cannot ignore, or reject.'

Ceasefire, cricket and Kashmir   - November 28, 2000
'To associate the men who are waging a war against India with the country's second largest faith is giving a bad name to those Muslims of India who have nothing to do with the war being waged in their name and for who, I am sure, associating the ceasefire with their holy month would be nothing short of anathema.'

Sonia's choice   - November 21, 2000
Sonia is saddled with a huge credibility factor, and as of now she, with her status quoism, has become the albatross around her party's neck.'

Fall of the legends   - November 15, 2000
'I am sure Mohammad Azharuddin has his reasons to keep his own counsel. But his silence, so soon after outsinging Lata Mangeshkar before the Central Bureau of Investigation, is damning. Silence is not only consent, it is also admission.'

'Did you wash your arse today?'   - October 14, 2000
'I would have been happier if the people had marched to Mantralaya, the civic headquarters, the ward offices, perhaps even Breach Candy hospital, and gheraoed them -- yes, even defecated outside these places.'

In defence of PVN   - October 10, 2000
'To convict Rao of corruption, that too for providing stability at a time when the nation most needed it, and without taking into consideration the extenuating circumstances, is simply unfair.'

Truth or dare...   - September 26, 2000
'Journalists are not this bunch of untrustworthy, unreliable, callous bunch of buccaneers for whom cooking up stories, quotes, reactions is all part of the day's work. Of course there are a few who fit the bill, but they would be minuscule in number. But when someone no less than the prime minister talks about being misquoted by the media in broad daylight, it's probably time to wonder if the lie, thanks to ad nauseam repetition, has become the truth.'

Master of all he surveys   - September 12, 2000
Power, it sure would seem, puts back the spring in one's step, the spunk in one's stride, the steel in one's soul. Age may wither beauty and the beast alike, but a dollop of power is all it would take to bring back the magic

Only the good die young   - September 7, 2000
There's a warning for all political parties. Which is that their sword arm needs a backup which, in order to be useful, must be younger.

Rule by wimps   - August 2, 2000
The urge to go down in history, obviously, is so strong that prime ministers are sometimes blind to the fact of their nation going down the drain.

Has Bhujbal really left the Sena?   - July 25, 2000
'The biggest gainers in this political one-upmanship are obviously the Shiv Sena and its chief,' says Saisuresh Sivaswamy.

Can a tiger regain its lost stripes?   - July 12, 2000
'The Thackeray brand of politics is bound to come a cropper at the hustings. And one does not have to be a political pundit to arrive at this conclusion; one simply has to be a resident of Maharashtra.'

Autonomy can't be all that bad   - July 5, 2000
'The autonomy card is the only option left for Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah. And, possibly, the only option left to India as well.'

Highway scars   - June 28, 2000
'If you thought rumblers and speed-breakers on a national highway were strange, you don't know Maharashtra's recent political history.'

But aren't Muslims discriminated against!?   - June 20, 2000
'We Indians are ever-willing to believe the worst against Muslims, for it is already established in our minds that the Muslim has extra-terrestrial loyalties, that the Muslim is a born criminal, that they are out-breeding us. They are not *of* India, even though they may be *from* India.'

Death and beyond   - June 13, 2000
'In the gerontocracy that India has become since 1991, the relatively youthful Pilot, one had hoped, would be a little more than a footnote.'

In defence of tehelka.com   - June 6, 2000
'Let not the rest of the media's insistence on ethics confuse you. If you want a soupcon of their high ethical standards, allow Manoj Prabhakar and his hidden camera to travel with the media on just one of the prime minister's jaunts.'

The lure of Lanka   - May 23, 2000
India's options lie with a united Sri Lanka, not with a truncated one, however much local sentiment may desire otherwise. What we did in 1987 was a historical blunder, as was what we did prior to 1985.

LTTE hoist by its own petard   - May 9, 2000
Nine years after Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, it is perhaps time to acknowledge that in his death, he redeemed himself. That with his life, he gave back Tamilians their sense of perspective.

Madras musings   - May 2, 2000
Can a man love two women at the same time? Tangentially, can one love two cities at the same time?

A Case for Jaswant Singh   - April 18, 2000
'Apart from ending India's isolation after Pokhran, it is a fact that the BJP's allies are far more comfortable in his presence than they would be in, say M M Joshi's or Advani's.'

The BJP's yin and yang   - February 8, 2000
'If today the hordes are allowed to get away with arbitrating what is offensive or not to "Indian culture", then tomorrow we could all land in a situation where the desi answer to the Taleban could dictate what you and I should do, wear, say...'

R P Gupta floats a trial balloon   - February 1, 2000
'What is going to matter in the heartland are not glib terms like Kargil, economic reforms, women's empowerment, I-T revolution et al, but Advani-ism. Which, in short, translates into Ram, Ram, Ram.'

50 years of solitude-II   - January 25, 2000
'At fifty years of age, we are in a strange era, where every decision of the government, its agencies, has been thrown open to judicial scrutiny. Sacking of an admiral? File a PIL. Holding of elections? File a PIL. Was a popular deity born at a particular spot? File a PIL. Things have come to such a pass, that a judge, the judicial bench today is expected to be an expert on anything and everything.'

Fifty years of solitude   - January 19, 2000
'The parroting of statements by this government, about reviewing the Constitution, should stop forthwith, if the intention is not to go beyond them. What the nation needs is a firm assurance of action, and a firmer assurance that whatever action is contemplated will not be a partisan exercise.'

Do it yourself   - January 11, 2000
'What India is trying to do is get the West fight its battle, when the proper course of action will be to take the first step in showing the world that it is serious. Why should India await the world's signal to call off all ties with Pakistan?'

Who will avenge Rupin Katyal?   - January 4, 2000
'Those responsible for this gauche, yet deadly, game are responsible for Katyal's death, and since the government has more or less admitted that it lacks the wherewithal to bring the hijackers to book, the least it can do is carry out an inquiry to pinpoint responsibility for the failure at various levels of administration.'

Steel in the soul, anyone?   - December 28, 1999
'No doubt, Maulana Masood is a prize catch. It is possible that allowing him to go scot-free could give the committed terrorists in the valley a boost of morale. Despite this, to me, it seems that the nation has the resilience to emerge from any calamity that may spring from the release of one man from custody.'

A phenomenon called Rajni   - December 14, 1999
'So far Rajnikant has shied away from putting his face where his vote is. But it is a matter of time before he is forced by his manrams to chase a larger destiny.'

Revisiting December 6, 1992   - December 7, 1999
'Narasimha Rao let the demolition squad get on with the destruction of the Babri Masjid, since he realised that the only way to stop the BJP's steroid-inspired growth was to cut at its root.'

The political paradigm has shifted
  - November 4, 1999
'The clash between the Hindu and Christian faiths will continue till the two communities find a modus vivendi. On the face of it, it is a difficult route to follow: the two faiths are inherently dissimilar.'

Will Vajpayee be the millennium man   - October 26, 1999
'Bridging the Hindu-Muslim chasm, which has remained deep despite a post-Partition generation coming up in the country, is something that will be to Vajpayee's credit alone. And this is a process, I suspect, that has already been set in motion, and it is a question of time before a fait accompli is announced.'

To survive, the NCP has to go with BJP-Sena   - October 13, 1999
'With Sangma and former Maharashtra chief minister Sudhakarrao Naik indicating what they feel about the stalemate in the talks with the Congress, Pawar faces a very likely chance of his party splitting and a rump aligning with the Sena-BJP.'

E pluribus unum   - October 8, 1999
The electorate has not changed and voted for the BJP. What has changed is the BJP -- it saw the writing on the wall that year, when it preened in its splendid isolation, and went about cobbling together just such an arrangement that reflects the diversity and plurality of India.

Parivar and the Family   - October 4, 1999
But this election is, for sure, the BJP's last hurrah. Now that it has undergone an image makeover and become another Congress party -- a cleaner version, if you will -- there is no way it will be able to withstand the Dynasty's appeal in the next round of elections.

Those were the days, my friend   - August 27, 1999
If the Vajpayee government is returned to power, it will be the first time that a non-Congress government is voted in on a pro vote. Perhaps then one will be justified in saying that the Congress has been well and truly replaced at the federal level.

Let the games begin!   - August 17, 1999
My vote for the battle of the century, if not the millennium, goes to Gandhinagar, where the BJP's mascot L K Advani is pitted against Tirunellai Narayanaiyar Seshan who has, surprisingly, come into bat for the Congress. But then, I have always held that the man had flexible principles.

Return of the JD   - August 11, 1999
The real import of the JD faction walking over to the NDA will be seen in the post-election scenario. The former JD constituents that are wreathing saffron over themselves today are obviously some kind of a Trojan Horse within the BJP.

The more things change...   - August 6, 1999
It is like there are two parallel systems operating in India, one for the haves, the other for the have-nots. In between the two is the large section of the wannabes, whose heart beats for the ranks they have left behind and who will not get admittance into the rarefied ranks they covet if they paused to think...

Sonia's toughest hour   - August 3, 1999
'It will be very surprising if the Congress, with all its allies, crosses the magic figure in the forthcoming election. It will be even more surprising, if any among the BJP's burgeoning rank of allies is tempted to do another Jayalalitha on Vajpayee.'

Tales from beyond   - July 13, 1999
The minute you start believing that you have got everything under control, comes the knock-out that shows you who's boss. Death is the serpent that destroys one's private Eden, the ultimate spoiler against which there is no defence.

'Let us not be lulled by the olive branch   - July 9, 1999
A retreat, even a small-scale retreat as this one, has serious domestic implications, especially in a macho, adventurous society like Pakistan. If Sharief had unilaterally announced a backout from Kargil, a coup was very much on the cards.

For a reaction that befits the occasion   - July 1, 1999
Is it that our cricket team's encounters with Pakistan on the field are so dear to us, that we are willing to overlook a few square kilometres of our territory? After all, the squatters are all Mussalman, our dear brothers as the Mahatma called them. Or is it that we are so hung up on our dollops of ghazals and Sufi pop that we can be Dritharashtra to a little incursion?

Captain, my captain   - June 22, 1999
The tragedy about the Indian XI is that even if Azhar were removed, there is no one who has shown the ability to convert the 11 talented men into one team.

Kargil, not Sonia's origins, will dominate polls   - June 15, 1999
The government may be full of good intentions, but it has failed miserably in its duty as the nation's sentinel, for which it will have to pay the price.

No amount of peace is worth ceding an inch of territory   - June 2, 1999
Mera Bharat Ratna   - May 25, 1999
The facade has blown away, Mme Gandhi   - May 18, 1999
Go, Vajpayee, go!   - May 11, 1999
For Mumbai's civic woes, there can be no better solution than Mayor-in-Council   - May 4, 1999
A mirror to oneself   - April 27, 1999
The BJP has lost the battle, the war remains   - April 20, 1999
Why, my beloved country   - April 13, 1999
Yeh dil mange no more   - April 6, 1999
The more things change...   - April 1, 1999
It's been a long year for Vajpayee   - March 16, 1999
State of no return   - March 9, 1999
The law of averages and Sonia Gandhi   - March 3, 1999
The Thin Red Line   - February 23, 1999
The year of living dangerously   - February 16, 1999
Mind the potholes...   - February 9, 1999
Thackeray gets ready for Y2K   - February 2, 1999
Mr Vajpayee, please go!   - January 25, 1999
The international loneliness of the Hindu   - January 19, 1999
To convert or not is an individual's right   - January 12, 1999
Saffron dogs of war bark up the wrong tree   - January 5, 1999
The why front   - December 22, 1998
Might and right   - December 15, 1998
No bridge over troubled waters   - December 8, 1998
Way to go, Sonia!   - December 1, 1998
Don't write off the Vajpayee government as yet   - November 24, 1998
Pakistan, friend or enemy?   - November 10, 1998
The price of power   - November 3, 1998
Past Forward   - October 27, 1998
The alliance that is getting frayed   - October 20, 1998
Winter of discontent stares BJP in the face   - October 13, 1998
The colour gray   - October 6, 1998
Circle of Treason   - September 28, 1998
The Bihar Boomerang   - September 22, 1998
Fine Print   - September 16, 1998
Sonia makes just the right moves   - September 8, 1998
Is it a mad hatter's party, or what..?   - September 1, 1998
American military action is the best thing to happen to India in a long time   - August 25, 1998
Srikrishna travesty will cost the Sena-BJP dear   - August 18, 1998
A tale of two PMs   - August 3, 1998
Don't demonise Godse, don't deify Gandhi either   - July 17, 1998
In defence of Jayalalitha   - July 6, 1998
The goongi gudiya all over again...   - June 30, 1998
100 days that lack lustre   - June 23, 1998
The Shadow Prime Minister   - June 16, 1998
Women are the bane of Vajpayee's life   - June 10, 1998
Will the NRIs now put their money where their mouth is?   - June 2, 1998
Husain and the myth of Hindu tolerance   - May 29, 1998
Exactly how will you keep up the euphoria for five years, Mr Prime Minister?   - May 25, 1998
Vajpayee reaches for his Viagra   - May 19, 1998
Where's the prime minister?   - May 11, 1998
The impotence of being Subramanian Swamy   - May 4, 1998
Coalition worse confounded   - April 27, 1998
Jaya and the art of laying landmines   - April 17, 1998
Vajpayee's path of least resistance   - April 11, 1998
Joshi refuses to be Thackeray's scapegoat   - March 28, 1998
The line-up for the finals   - March 21, 1998
Friends and Foes   - March 14, 1998
Pawar and the art of turning defeat into victory   - March 6, 1998
Over to the President   - February 28, 1998
The BJP should sit it out in the Opposition   - February 19, 1998
Understanding the Sonia enigma   - February 13, 1998
Tomorrow, there is nothing to stop Sonia from apologising in Bengal over the creation of Bangladesh!   - January 31, 1998
Future Shock!   - January 24, 1998
The dynasty is knocking on the doors   - January 16, 1998
The Congressisation of the BJP   - January 9, 1998
Sonia's decision is not an unmitigated blessing for the Congress   - December 31, 1997
Power sans responsibility   - December 26, 1997
What the Congress is doing in dotage is grasping for life-support, and disregarding the elixir of youth   - December 19, 1997
The Untouchable   - December 15, 1997
Requiem for the Lok Sabha   - December 4, 1997
This Lok Sabha has some life in it, yet   - November 27, 1997
Patriot Games   - November 22, 1997
There is no putting off the elections anymore   - November 21, 1997
When the BJP suffers from amnesia   - November 15, 1997
See how they run!   - November 5, 1997
M&A is the body politic's new mantra   - November 3, 1997
The United Front stands naked to its enemies   - October 27, 1997
Mahanta and the art of brewing tea   - October 21, 1997
Backward and forward, in her nightgown   - October 14, 1997
Gujral's flawed doctrine   - October 4, 1997
Joshi faces his first challenge   - September 27, 1997
Why Kalyan Singh is unfit to be CM   - September 22, 1997
'Arre bhai, wahan masjid hai hi kahan?'   - September 13, 1997
The final countdown has begun for the United Front   - September 9, 1997
Why V P Singh's formula for fighting the BJP won't work   - August 28, 1997
Growing lawlessness in Bombay will be Sena-BJP's Achilles heel   - August 20, 1997
India and Bharat, each personifying the ersatz and real societies of our persona, have drifted further apart   - August 13, 1997
The Congress is supporting the very groups which cut off its legs   - August 6, 1997
Inder Kumar Gujral ko gussa kyon aata hai   - August 2, 1997
By refusing to resign, Laloo had committed rape of the law; now, he has compounded it with sodomy as well   - July 30, 1997
Fear of losing OBC votes made Karunanidhi back Laloo Prasad Yadav   - July 25, 1997
In an arrangement that is so fragile, where the presence and absence of one or the other constituent makes for a life and death question   - July 19, 1997
It is evident that the Congress stands to gain most by what has been going on in Maharashtra   - July 16, 1997
The Bihar crisis has shown that Gujral is incapable of applying his mind   - July 10, 1997
Is the awardee honoured, or the award?   - July 7, 1997
Gujral knows the JD is a lost cause, and that no sacrifice will save it at this juncture   - July 3, 1997
Laloo has shown he does not need the JD, and it can go to hell   - June 30, 1997
The UF and Congress think nothing of besmirching the nation's highest office by ushering caste politics into Rashtrapati Bhavan   - June 25, 1997
Laloo's fig leaf is blown off in the political gust   - June 20, 1997
The Congress election was actually a matter of Pawar losing than Kesri winning   - June 16, 1997
The importance of being Murli Deora   - June 12, 1997
The Congress polls and after   - June 9, 1997
It won't be a bad idea for Kesri and Laloo to join hands
in their hour of need
  - June 5, 1997
It's party time for Sharad Pawar, finally   - May 31, 1997
Vote-catcher on the prowl   - May 28, 1997
The Sonia factor has ruined Kesri's peace   - May 24, 1997
Cry, Freedom!   - May 21, 1997
Why does Amitabh Bachchan hate politics so now?   - May 17, 1997
Sonia's entry into politics spells early elections   - May 13, 1997
Kesri won the AICC president post in April 11 itself   - May 10, 1997
Federalism does not dawn merely because
regional parties take part in the central government
  - May 6, 1997
A clean government, but it can't oust Laloo   - May 2, 1997
Don't nightmares ever cease for India?   - April 28, 1997
UF gives into blackmail once, and it won't be the last time   - April 25, 1997
With Gujral's selection the Congress has been
denied a convenient target
  - April 22, 1997
Gujral is the man for all the wrong reasons   - April 21, 1997
Any which way, Kesri comes on top   - April 19, 1997
Pawar's timing for taking on Kesri is not right   - April 16, 1997
Deve Gowda's exit will ensure clear passage for budget   - April 15, 1997
Elections are now an unlikely scenario   - April 14, 1997
The UF sacrifices Deve Gowda, not power   - April 12, 1997
The Day of Reckoning   - April 11, 1997
Advani's acquittal has plus points for both Congress and UF   - April 9, 1997
For the third time in one year, the prime minister of India
may be from a state south of the Vindhyas
  - April 7, 1997
Love him or hate him, V P Singh shows he cannot be ignored   - April 5, 1997
It is now obvious that it was nothing but petty pique
that has made Kesri stake his party's very future
  - April 4, 1997
It's eyeball to eyeball, and someone's got to blink   - April 1, 1997
Kesri bares his fangs, finally   - March 30, 1997
Pakistan's dilemma: peace pipe or smoking gun?   - March 27, 1997
The BJP's focus is long-term. Often, it does not mind
conceding the battle so long as it is able to win the war
  - March 25, 1997
The fall of the Maratha   - March 15, 1997
Did we have to bend over backwards to show the world
how pleased India was to have Bill Gates here?
  - March 11, 1997
UF Budget dares the Congress to withdraw support   - March 8, 1997
Bombay looks global and turns local   - March 3, 1997
Punjab results show up the UF's real nature   - February 19, 1997
Chavan sets the stage for Rao's expulsion   - February 15, 1997
The law takes its own course   - February 11, 1997
Use the Kashmir key to turn the Pakistan lock   - February 8, 1997
The rise and decline of the BJP   - February 5, 1997
Bofors was the reason why Sonia wanted Rao out   - February 1, 1997
Bofors will lead to UF-Congress split   - January 28, 1997
Bofors and the art of political maintenance   - January 25, 1997

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