TOPIC OF THE DAY- A) Foggy in Wayanad: on Rahul’s decision to contest from Kerala


Rahul Gandhi’s decision to choose Wayanad in Kerala, in addition to Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, to contest, could well be a defining moment in this election. Though Wayanad was under consideration for at least two weeks, the decision was nonetheless surprising as his principal opponent would be, not his national-level ideological rival the BJP, but a party of the Left, which is in the forefront of the fight for a secular alternative to the ruling formation. This paradox could turn out to be a central challenge in the emergence of a national coalition against the BJP because many parties that are opposed to the BJP are also opposed to one another. Mr. Gandhi’s gambit amplifies that contradiction and marks a rupture between the Congress and the Left Front — fierce opponents in Kerala, but natural partners at the Centre. The national leadership of the Congress had kept an arm’s length from the highly competitive politics in Kerala, where its State unit and the Left are face to face. The exigencies of national politics shape their cooperation elsewhere. Only recently, on Mr. Gandhi’s watch, the Congress was in seat-sharing talks with the Left in West Bengal. Though the Congress has said Mr. Gandhi’s candidature is not against the Left, the latter has been brutal in its reaction. The Congress claimed the foray signalled Mr. Gandhi’s commitment to all regions. But the choice of Kerala, rather than Karnataka, where the Congress is locked in a direct battle with the BJP, is difficult to explain. If the Left frontally attacked the Congress, the BJP was disparaging. Amit Shah remarked Mr. Gandhi feared he would be held accountable by Amethi’s voters; and Narendra Modi, in a statement with communal overtones, said Mr. Gandhi chose the seat because Hindus were in a minority there. By fielding Mr. Gandhi from Wayanad, the Congress has taken a view that considerations of alliances are now secondary to its push to maximise its individual tally. The Congress has strong alliances in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Bihar but a shaky one in Karnataka. Its U.P. ambitions were rejected by the SP-BSP axis; and differences persist within the party on aligning with the AAP in Delhi. After the 2004 elections, the Congress became the fulcrum of a national coalition, which was bound by a broad commitment to a pluralist India, as opposed to Hindutva’s exclusivist and majoritarian politics. The Left had a significant role in its formation but ended the experiment in 2008 over differences with the Congress on the nuclear deal. State-level compulsions have led regional parties to cross from the BJP to the Congress and vice versa, but the primary fault-line is political mobilisation along religious lines. Without clarity of concept on addressing this fault-line, there can be no effective cooperation among non-BJP parties. Though it is unfair to put the entire onus of aggregating non-BJP politics on Mr. Gandhi, his candidacy in Wayanad can do nothing for the larger secular cause.

B) Space for campaign: On PM Modi’s address on ASAT test

“EC went by rule book on ASAT issue, but PM should have upheld the spirit of Model Code”

In ruling that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not violate the Model Code of Conduct by announcing through a nationally televised address the demonstration of India’s capability to bring down an operational satellite, the Election Commission has taken a possibly correct view of the Code’s provisions. However, it remains a narrow technical view as it is a thin line that divides the idea of making a high-level declaration of a defence capability from using it for electoral advantage. Opposition parties had accused the Prime Minister of violating the Model Code by touting the demonstration of the anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test as a significant achievement of the ruling BJP. CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury had formally complained to the EC. There were questions about the timing of the test as well as the manner of announcement as the country is in election mode. A five-member committee formed by the EC concluded that the relevant provision was not attracted in this case. Part VII of the Code covering the “party in power” says that “…the misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided.” The committee’s finding that there was no “misuse of official mass media” as Doordarshan and AIR took the feed from a news agency, and more than 60 channels did the same, is rooted in the letter of the code, not its spirit. It is possible to come to an equally valid conclusion that Mr. Modi’s action in making the announcement himself, rather than letting the DRDO, the agency involved, do so violates the bar on “furthering the prospects” of the ruling party by the nature of the publicity given to the achievement. The practice of using a private agency to record the announcement and asking it to share the feed , obliquely serves the purpose of generating publicity through the official media. As the legal maxim goes, what cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly either. Given that Mr. Modi gave advance publicity to the announcement, there is really no virtue in claiming that DD and AIR were not used for the purpose. As a landmark achievement in defence research, it deserved a public pronouncement at a high level. Even then, letting the DRDO explain the achievement first would have served the purpose. That the motive was to proclaim the ASAT demonstration as an achievement of the regime in the field of national security became obvious when it was propagated by the ruling party that its predecessor did not have the political will to approve such a test. The BJP must demonstrate it will not use such achievements for partisan advantage.


1) coalition

Meaning : a temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Synonyms : alliance

Antonyms : detachment

Example : “a coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

2) gambit

Meaning : an act or remark that is calculated to gain an advantage, especially at the outset of a situation(n).

Synonyms : design

Antonyms : frankness

Example : “his resignation was a tactical gambit”

3) contradiction

Meaning : a combination of statements, ideas, or features which are opposed to one another(n).

Synonyms : conflict

Antonyms : accord

Example : “the proposed new system suffers from a set of internal contradictions”

4) rupture

Meaning : (especially of a pipe or container, or bodily part such as an organ or membrane) break or burst suddenly.

Synonyms : breach

Antonyms : closure

Example : “if the main artery ruptures he could die”

5) brutal

Meaning : direct and without attempting to disguise unpleasantness(adj).

Synonyms : barbarous

Antonyms : calm

Example : “the brutal honesty of his observations”

6) claimed

Meaning : state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof(v).

Synonyms : assert

Antonyms : desert

Example : “the Prime Minister claimed that he was concerned about Third World debt”

7) persist

Meaning : continue in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.

Synonyms : endure

Antonyms : cease

Example : “the minority of drivers who persist in drinking”

8) contest

Meaning : an event in which people compete for supremacy in a sport or other activity, or in a quality(n).

Synonyms : trial

Antonyms : agreement

Example : “a tennis contest”

9) aggregating

Meaning : collect (related items of content) so as to display or link to them(v).

Synonyms : accumulate

Antonyms : detach

Example : “tools that aggregate data from all of the security devices are a good first step”

10) accused

Meaning : a person or group of people who are charged with or on trial for a crime.

Synonyms : implicated

Antonyms : discharged

Example : “the accused was ordered to stand trial on a number of charges”

11) scrupulously

Meaning : in a very careful and thorough way(adv).

Synonyms : meticulously

Example : “a scrupulously researched biography”

12) virtue

Meaning : behaviour showing high moral standards.

Synonyms : ethic

Antonyms : dishonesty

Example : “paragons of virtue”

13) proclaim

Meaning : announce officially or publicly.

Synonyms : affirm

Antonyms : conceal

Example : “the government’s chief scientific adviser proclaimed that the epidemic was under control”

14) regime

Meaning : a government, especially an authoritarian one(n).

Synonyms : establishment

Example : “ideological opponents of the regime”

15) propagated

Meaning : breed specimens of (a plant or animal) by natural processes from the parent stock(v).

Synonyms : proliferate

Antonyms : deplete

Example : “try propagating your own houseplants from cuttings”

16) pronouncement

Meaning : a formal or authoritative announcement or declaration(n).

Synonyms : edict

Antonyms : concealment

Example : “distrust of the pronouncements of politicians was endemic”

17) fulcrum

Meaning : a thing that plays a central or essential role in an activity, event, or situation.

Synonyms : clue

Antonyms : exterior

Example : “research is the fulcrum of the academic community”

18) foray

Meaning : a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory, especially to obtain something; a raid.

Synonyms : inroad

Antonyms : abstention

Example : “the garrison made a foray against Richard’s camp”

19) exigencies

Meaning : an urgent need or demand.

Synonyms : constraint

Antonyms : ease

Example : “women worked long hours when the exigencies of the family economy demanded it”

20) disparaging

Meaning : expressing the opinion that something is of little worth; derogatory(adj).

Synonyms : derogatory

Antonyms : favorable

Example : “disparaging remarks about council houses”