Diversity in unity: on the Ajit Jogi-Mayawati alliance

Things are never as easy as they seem from a distance. If the Congress entertained hopes of being at the centre of a national-level alliance against the Bharatiya Janata Party, then it was relying heavily on the changed attitude of the Bahujan Samaj Party to seat-sharing and coalition-building. But as Assembly polls in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan draw near, the Congress is beginning to realise that the agreement on the by-elections in Uttar Pradesh between the BSP and the Samajwadi Party that was touted as a precursor to a larger understanding among opposition parties in the run-up to the Lok Sabha polls of 2019 is anything but. By quickly concluding an agreement on seat-sharing with the Janta Congress Chhattisgarh led by former Congress chief minister Ajit Jogi, BSP leader Mayawati was clearly signalling to the Congress that its options were still open in M.P., and that unless given a fair share of the seats, the BSP would not back the Congress. While the BSP has

Overnight flip-flop: on the cancelled Swaraj-Qureshi meeting

Within 24 hours of announcing a meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in New York next week, India called it off. The reasons cited for this overnight flip-flop are recent attacks in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistan-based groups, and stamps issued by the Pakistani postal service that glorified Kashmiri terrorists. According to the MEA spokesperson, both acts “expose” Pakistan’s “evil agenda” and the “true face of the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan”, rendering talks “meaningless”. While the government is well within its rights to rethink any decision it takes, the reasons that it has furnished for cancelling the meeting are far from convincing. To begin with, there have been a number of violent attacks in J&K in the past few months which predate the government’s decision to schedule the meeting. Since the beginning of the year, 13 Border Security Force jawans have been killed along the Line of Control and
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