Verbatim
Rajeev Dhavan - I do not know what the future of AAP and Kejriwal will be. Some time ago, Anna had warned Kejriwal of the difference between social action and politics. But Kejriwal's actions since then, actions which he claims are in the public interest, has spoiled our past illusions of him and the party which was once believed to stand for real issues and clean politics. The best comment for Arvind Kejriwal today would be, as the tagline says: "No ulluu banaoing".
Robert Blackwill - One of the things that I find so fascinating is we haven’t seen anyone like Narendra Modi, who comes from outside New Delhi, with his overwhelming electoral mandate, with managerial success in Gujarat and strategic vision. So I think the whole world, including the US, is very excited about the dynamic new Indian leadership and all of us— and I speak for the US—have a strategic interest in a strong India, which plays its part as a balance in Asia. And he, so far, certainly hasn’t put a foot wrong. It’s been an extremely adroit performance in my view so far. It will be up to him and to his colleagues to pull India out of this economic downturn and we wish him the best.
Ramvilas Paswan - How long are you going to chant Godhra, Godhra, Godhra. It has been an era in 12 years. We went to jails during the Emergency, haven’t we forgotten it? We have forgotten anti-Sikh riots, riots in Bhagalpur. When we can forget all that, why not Godhra? Let the wheel of time move forward. Even child was chanting NaMo NaMo (during the election campaign). The reason for it was that when Narendra Modi said ‘eradicate poverty’, you said remove Modi. When he called for eliminating corruption, you called for removing Modi.
Gurcharan Das - The typical voter who elected Modi was not a Hindu nationalist. He was a young, middle-of-the-road person, who had recently migrated from a village to a small town. The stocky, selfmade , son of a station chai-walla inspired him with his message of development and governance, making him forget his caste, religion, and village. When he witnessed Modi perform aarti on his television screen in a riveting performance at the Dashashwamedh ghat by the Ganga in Varanasi, he felt deeply moved. Suddenly, he did not feel ashamed of being Hindu. The “secular” English speaking intelligentsia had heaped contempt on his “superstitious” ways and had made him feel inferior and inadequate. During his long campaign of political theatre, Modi decolonized his mind and thus bestowed dignity on him.
TH Mustafa, Congress Leader - Rahul behaved like a joker and that's why the Congress suffered a major reversal in the general polls. Being a prime minister is not child's play and the people knew it and handed out the worst defeat to the Congress party… Rahul should take the responsibility (for the party's debacle) and quit and if not he should be removed and Priyanka Gandhi should be made the new party president.
Sundeep Khanna - Much like one Ambassador model succeeded the other, one Nehru-Gandhi scion followed the other as if by divine right, with few qualifications barring those conferred by birth. So while the world around them changed imperceptibly but surely, the car and the party refused to change, yielding ground to nimble competitors who read the mood of their customers better. The Maruti took over the mantle of the people’s car long before the Amby finally put in its papers. And Narendra Modi had supplanted a Gandhi as the leader of choice, long before the final votes were counted on 16 May.
CL Manoj - Rahul Gandhi let his apolitical backroom team — draftsmen, technocrats, fortune seekers and social climbers — "help him win elections" through laptops/data collection, and appointed many greenhorns as regional commanders. He imposed ex-socialists, Sanghis and unproductive professors in AICC to mess up time-tested political/organisational/election management systems. Rahul could do all this only because of his surname. He put on a fake "angry-youngman" act, only to be rejected by the youth. After the disaster, the ones trying to distance themselves from Team Rahul are the same people who had promoted themselves on their "Rahul tag": the Milind Deoras and Jairam Rameshes, like the Arun Singhs and Arun Nehrus of yore.
Ramachandra Guha - As the sociologist André Béteille has remarked, the posthumous career of Nehru has come increasingly to reverse a famous Biblical injunction. In the Bible, it is said that the sins of the father will visit seven successive generations. In Nehru’s case, the sins of daughter, grandsons, granddaughter-in-law and great-grandson have been retrospectively visited on him. So long as Sonia and Rahul Gandhi are active in public life this state of affairs shall prevail. Only after the last member of his family has exited the stage of Indian politics might a judicious and credible appreciation of Nehru’s life and legacy finally become possible.
Praveen Chakravarty - It is evident that Modi's charm offensive of voters in the "Hindi states" was singularly responsible for the BJP's path-breaking performance in the 2014 elections. Winning 90 per cent of seats in these states is a once-in-a-four-decade phenomenon and for that spectacular achievement alone, Modi should be hailed as a path breaker. This "black swan" victory has understandably piqued the curiosity of many who have sought to explain this victory in sociological terms of "preferences of a new aspirational India", "triumph of development over caste politics", "youth vote for change" and so on. Amid all this, the only thing that is abundantly clear is that when presented with a ballot of choices, the average "Hindi" voter chose differently from the average "non-Hindi" voter, but both agreed that the incumbent needed to be thrown out, which by itself was sufficient to give India its first single-party majority government in 30 years.
Surjit S Bhalla - Modi is evil, we are not: An important fact about the recent election, and possibly related to the overwhelming beyond-expectations majority that Narendra Modi obtained, is that, to the best of my knowledge, no individual in Indian or world history has been unjustly vilified as much as Modi has been. This vilification continues even to this day, especially by the “sickular” parties and their left-intellectual storm troopers. I am choosing my words wisely, because the condemnation campaign has almost universally invoked images of the Nazi and Fascist European regimes of the 1930s. What is most informative, and disturbing, about these storm troopers (among whom are many domestic and foreign journalists), is that they invariably belong to the Congress party and/or have been its sympathisers until recently.
Surjit S Bhalla - More than a year ago, in ‘Message to Sonia: reform or perish’, I wrote: “Recall that Annie Besant became president of the Congress party in 1917. If Sonia Gandhi does not change, then she risks the following obituary of the party she heads: ‘It took a white, European, socialist, woman to help create the Congress party — and it has taken a white, European, socialist, woman to destroy it more than a hundred years later’.” Sometimes, but not often enough, one does get a forecast right!
Chetan Bhagat - We need to redefine secular – one of the most abused words in Indian politics today. No-body can define it clearly. The simplest description is letting all religions coexist. But coexist how? Like oil and water? Or like milk and sugar? We have to strive for the latter. We have to blend in as Indians. Oil-and-water secular is not secular at all. It’s just vote-bank politics. We need to also fix laws that keep us separate – no modern, liberal democracy has separate personal laws based on religion. These laws keep us separate in the ‘oil and water’ secular mode. Remove them. Same for Article 370 in Kashmir. It’s one country, one system. Apply for citizenship elsewhere if you don’t like the rules.
Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar - Formal democratic titles mean nothing in the semi-feudal ethos of the Congress Party. Only the dynasty matters. This is a party where all members are supposed to sit up and beg when any member of the Gandhi family whistles. Its members have no rationale, purpose or hope of power save through the grace of the Gandhis. This dynasty has generated more black money than all others combined. It found very useful Singh's unimpeachable reputation for integrity. This provided some cover to the dynasty when scams exploded. But it damaged Singh's own reputation.
Narendra Modi - This is the right time to look ahead. It is a time to connect with each other. Lets place people over politics, hope over despair, healing over hurting, inclusion over exclusion and development over divisiveness. It is natural for the spirit of bipartisanship to get temporarily lost in the midst of an election campaign but now is the time to resurrect it. Now is the time to put the heat and dust of the campaign behind and look ahead. Irrespective of who wins on the 16th, the dreams of a billion Indians should not suffer.
Shekhar Gupta - Now Mukhtar, who was to contest from Varanasi to save secularism, first on the BSP ticket, and then on his own party’s, the Quami Ekta Dal’s (it is just him, two brothers and a few henchmen), has withdrawn in support of, hold your breath, Ajay Rai. As secular coalitions go, this must be the most spectacularly fraudulent and immoral ever. It will give the mafias a bad name. You want me to confuse — and infuriate — you further? Ajay, a five-term MLA, has been elected for the BJP thrice. So the Congress has found their mini Shankersinh Vaghela in Varanasi too. He has also been in the SP. Mukhtar has been with the BSP in the past and now supports the Congress. As they would say in Varanasi, dono ney ghat-ghat ka paani piya hai. As soon as the election ends, the war will resume, in jail and outside. If this is the nature and quality of the allegedly secular challenge, you know why Modi and Amit Shah are so chill.
Meghnad Desai - We appeal to the mosque because we are secular. You appeal to temples because you are communal. Your model is flawed since you sacrifice the poor for the sake of growth, but we sacrifice growth for the poor. If inclusive growth has been pursued by the Congress for 50 of the last 67 years, why is India so low down in the Human Development Index — barely above Pakistan and below even Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?
Sandipan Deb - I had interviewed Dr Manmohan Singh before the 1999 elections, the only time he contested for a Lok Sabha seat. He was standing from South Delhi, a constituency with a middle class and upper middle class profile. In the course of that interview, he said something that struck me as strange and has always stayed with me. "The middle class – the sort of people who live in South Delhi – has gained the most from my economic liberalisation programme," he told me. "If I lose from here, there is something wrong with these people, not me." This reeked of a certain arrogance that made me uncomfortable. In the event, he lost by 40,000 votes to a journeyman politician, the BJP's Vijay Kumar Malhotra, principally because in a campaign speech, Dr Singh said that the perpetrators of the anti-Sikh riots of 1984 were the RSS and not the Congress. This was an astonishing statement to make, and it sealed his fate.
Sanjay Singh - The off-the-record or unofficial version of events by the district administration is reportedly that Beniabagh (where Modi was due to hold his rally) is adjacent to a densely populated Muslim locality. If that is indeed the case, the BJP has all the more reason to take offence. Should the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate not have the right or the duty to communicate to the Muslim electorate, particularly when he has been accused of having alienated this very community? While Modi was denied permission to hold a rally, Rahul Gandhi, the Congress Vice President was allowed to have a road show in Varanasi on the 10th evening, around the time campaigning closes for the last phase of polling. While nobody can grudge Rahul Gandhi’s or Akhilesh Yadav’s or Arvind Kejriwal's right to campaign on any day within permissible hours, the BJP can certainly grudge denial of the same right to their leader.
Ambika Sharan Singh, Chicholli Village, UP - You have come here for the first time in 10 years. Your father had met us thrice in a much shorter time that he was here... I have been pradhan for 19 years and have gone to jail during Emergency. Rajiv Gandhi used to have lunch at my place. But Rahul has no time for Amethi. The coterie that has groomed him is useless and he will pay the price for it if he does not realize it this time.
Prarthna Gahilote - Behind Priyanka, a huge imposing wall of a village building is plastered with a life-size poster of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Nar­endra Modi. From the billboard, the BJP’s poster boy for 2014, dressed in a maroon jacket and beige kurta, stares piercingly straight ahead. The caption, ‘Abki baar Modi sarkar’, asserts itself below. Priyanka moves to the crowd and addresses 50-year-old Mithilesh Kumari: “Kaisa chehra lagta hai inka?  Daraavana lagta hai? (What do you think of the face? Is it scary?)” referring to the picture on the wall. Kumari, a mukhiya of her village, lets out a ringing laugh and shoots back, “Buland chehra lagta hai. Hindustani dikhta hai humko. Bahut achche hain. (It is a strong face. An Indian face. He’s very good.)”  With Priyanka’s departure, Kumari turns to us and says, “Dekha dol gayin (Look she left),” quickly adding, “what has Rahul Gandhi done for us? He comes here, waves at us from his car in a roadshow and goes away.  There are no jobs here, no employment, no roads and no water.”
Narendra Modi - I am levelling a serious charge against the Election Commission. You have failed to stop rigging and violence in West Bengal, Bihar and parts of western Uttar Pradesh. Why are you not acting? What is your intention? If you feel what I am saying now is wrong, then you are free to lodge another case against me… Democracy doesn’t work like this. I know how much rigging took place in the elections on May 30… Isn’t it the EC’s responsiblity to conduct peaceful and fair polls. The EC is supposed to be the umpire in an election. There is the IB’s report with you (EC) that elements involved in rigging and booth-capturing are active… We had warned earlier also, but still rigging has taken place. You can have peaceful elections in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but you will not get the credit. It is only when you ensure peaceful and fair elections in states like Bengal, UP and Bihar, that you will get the credit.
Coomi Kapoor - There are red faces in the Information & Broadcasting Ministry after Narendra Modi’s hour-long interview appeared on Doordarshan before the crucial seventh phase of polling on April 30. Actually, DD had sent out a formal request to both Rahul and Modi for an interview. Nobody responded from Rahul’s side whereas Modi not only replied immediately but made himself available within three days. DD was understandably reluctant to telecast Modi’s interaction without first telecasting a similar face-to-face with Rahul, who was still to respond. But the news of the pending interview was put out on Twitter. Soon the story went viral on Internet, with indignant queries raised as to why the interview was being “suppressed”. Prasar Bharati CEO Jawhar Sircar took the professional decision to air the programme in the light of the controversy. The infuriated Congress camp, which regards DD as its domain, has now belatedly granted time for a Rahul interview.
Narendra Modi - Bahadur Shah Zafar had waged war of Independence against the British empire. When Zafar died, British Raj in Delhi refused to give him two yards of land because he had fought against British, Modi said, referring to the last Moghul Emperor’s burial in Rangoon (Burma). Narasimha Rao had worked for economic freedom of the country but the Government of mother-son refused to give him two yards of land. He had devoted his entire life for the Congress and also served as Prime Minister but his body was not taken to the Congress office even for a few minutes.
Uday Balakrishnan - From Mahatma Gandhi to Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress party has been adept at appealing to the most retrograde sections of the Muslim community whether it was to promote the Khilafat movement — strongly opposed by Jinnah — or rush through a bill to nullify the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Shah Bano case. Downplaying or suppressing reports of communal conflicts has been a cornerstone of Congress’s cover up strategy. Amongst several others, the mass killings which followed the takeover of Hyderabad State by India in 1948 — brought out by the still officially suppressed Pandit Sunderlal Committee report, to the communal riots of Ahmedabad (1969) and Nelli (1983), as well as the Sikh massacres of 1984, Congress governments have attempted to hide or downplay them all.
K Natwar Singh - I don't agree with the narrative that Manmohan Singh was solely responsible for the Indo-US civil nuclear deal. I, as external affairs minister, was part of the whole negotiations and had seen Manmohan Singh become both nervous and noncommittal even as I was pushing for the deal. I am glad Condoleezza Rice, the then US secretary of state, wrote in her book that the negotiations wouldn't have progressed were it not for Natwar Singh.
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