A stoppable juggernaut –

The results of the recent by-elections in eastern Uttar Pradesh have made it clear that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Narendra Modi is not invincible. The electors of Gorakhpur and Phulpur have shown his party the door, signalling that they are neither enamoured by what it has to offer by way of politics nor overawed of its grand success in the State Assembly elections of barely a year ago. They have bearded the proverbial lion in his den. It is now no longer inconceivable that the BJP may face the same fate elsewhere in the country in the parliamentary elections in 2019.

Secularism question –

However, for this to happen, the advisers of the main Opposition party, the Congress, must read this verdict. They must realise that it would hardly do to merely “promote secularism without giving the BJP the opportunity to label [it] anti-Hindu,” as a writer put it in this newspaper soon after the elections to the Gujarat Assembly. Nor would it help for the party president to become a serial temple-goer as he did temporarily in Gujarat in poll season, a practice that has been hailed as “smart secularism” by pundits dismayed by the supposed innocence of “Nehruvian liberals”. Only a puffed-up intellect could imagine that India’s electorate are so naive as to not sniff fake religiosity from a distance. That Akhilesh Yadav did not go on a temple crawl in the Hindu-majority constituencies of Gorakhpur and Phulpur did not prevent the electors from switching their allegiance to the Samajwadi Party (SP). We know from the vote count that while Opposition unity helped with the victories, there has actually been a swing away from the BJP, even though slight. As for promoting ‘secularism without appearing to be anti-Hindu’, this is odd advice indeed. First, how can a political party promote secularism when the State, the reins to which it aspires, is constitutionally bound by it? Second, why should any religious group feel threatened by a genuinely secular State for it remains the best bet for the religiously inclined, whatever their faith. Finally, what the electors of U.P. have shown is that the people of India need no lessons in secularism. They have rejected Hindutva politics without any help from the Congress Party. How can we be certain that it is Hindutva that they have rejected? Well we can’t, for it could also be anti-incumbency as the elections were to the Lok Sabha. But if it is anti-incumbency that led to the defeat of the BJP, it is all the more reason for the Opposition parties to focus on the things that voters really care about. Hospitals are very likely among these. Last year Gorakhpur saw over 1,000 child deaths due to a deadly district public hospital in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s pocket borough.





Meaning: Too powerful to be defeated or overcome.

Example: “an invincible warrior”

Synonyms: Invulnerable, Unconquerable

Antonyms: Vulnerable, Defenseless


Meaning: Impress (someone) so much that they are silent or inhibited.

Example: “the eleven-year-old was overawed by the atmosphere”

Synonyms: Intimidate, Daunt

Bearded (the proverbial) lion in his den

Meaning: To visit an important person in order to tell or ask them something unpleasant.

Synonyms: Dealing with


Meaning: Not capable of being imagined or grasped mentally; unbelievable.

Example: “it seemed inconceivable that the president had been unaware of what was going on”

Synonyms: Unbelievable, Unthinkable

Antonyms: Likely


Meaning: Out of breath.

Example: “he felt puffed after climbing to the top of the apartment block”

Synonyms: Panting, Wheezy


Meaning: To be likely to cause harm or damage to something or someone.

Example: Changing patterns of agriculture are threatening the countryside.


Meaning: The holding of an office or the period during which one is held.

Example: “during his incumbency he established an epidemic warning system”