Publish with us

Follow Penguin

Follow Penguinsters

Follow Penguin Swadesh

Revolution or Ruin? The Jaw-Dropping Events of ‘The Politician Redux’

Ever wondered what politics looked like in India during the 1970s and 1980s? The Politician Redux by Devesh Verma has all the answers. Join Ram Mohan’s journey as he lands on the UP Public Service Commission, having been denied a cabinet position. Against the backdrop of the JP movement shaking up the Congress regime, Ram Mohan’s story unfolds amidst significant changes in Indian history.​

 

Read this excerpt to experience the political intrigue, societal upheaval, and relentless pursuit of power in this thrilling sequel to The Politician.

The Politician Redux
The Politician Redux || Devesh Verma

***

There had been signs of popular unrest and political turmoil across an enormous chunk of India, and the way it came to grow in scope and intensity was staggering. Ram Mohan was thankful to Saansadji, the Chief Minister, for sending him to the Commission. Handpicked by Indira Gandhi, no Congress CM had the resources of his own to handle a crisis of this nature. It had all begun in the state of Gujarat, this flaring up of popular rage at inflation, where, incensed at their increased mess bill, students at an engineering college assaulted a college official, and put the canteen to the torch, following it up with another bout of destruction of college property. The trouble metastasized to other educational institutions Students were baying for the sacking of the state government led by one of the most corrupt Congress leaders, Chimanbhai Patel, who had procured massive funds for the party through questionable means. That inflamed the situation on the price rise front. Then, Jayprakash Narayan, an esteemed socialist figure, decided to lend his support to the agitation in Gujarat. Having been associated with the freedom struggle, he had once been invited by Nehru to join his cabinet. He had declined and quietly settled down in his home state, Bihar, emerging now and again from his retirement to pick up odd causes. Soon to be known as JP, he hailed the Gujarat students’ angst, seeing it as a force that could bring about the redemption of the country from corruption infesting the Indian polity.

 

With the students’ anger winning public endorsement, the situation in Gujarat became one of pandemonium. Violence and vandalism were rampant. The opposition latched on to the agitation, and Indira Gandhi had had to remove the Chief Minister placing the state under President’s rule while the opposition clamoured for the dissolution of the assembly and fresh polls. She was unwilling. Forcing her hand was a fast unto death to which her old foe Desai, the tallest leader of Gujarat, had resorted. Meanwhile, students in the lawless Bihar had put together their own movement with the opposition in tow, the grievances being the same as in Gujarat: corruption, price rise unemployment.

 

With rioting, arson vandalism becoming the order of the day, Bihar was thrown into anarchy. There was also this strike by railway workers when hundreds of thousands of them stopped work, demanding pay parity with other government employees. A little prior to this twenty-day-long, debilitating strike that had to be broken up by the government, JP had agreed to take up the reins of the Movement. Sensing general discontent, he resurrected his old idea of ‘total revolution’ and, with the opposition rooting for him, took the Movement beyond his home state, appealing to people, chiefly the youth, to rise against the misrule of Indira Gandhi. In the meantime, Saansad-ji’s reputation took a knock when the Congress lost a by-election for Allahabad, the parliamentary seat from which he had resigned to become member of the state legislature.

 

It was against this backdrop of growing bitterness of the Congress rule that Ram Mohan went to see Saansad-ji in Lucknow. He wanted to thank him for the Commission that had inaugurated a delightful chapter in his life ‘This was the best I could do in the circumstances and take my word, it’s one of the most coveted non-political positions. As Member Public Service Commission, you’ll have a term of sixyears during which nobody can touch you, whereas no political
office can be immune to instability.’ ‘Yes, I have a large family to provide for. I need stability. But whenever I’m needed in active politics, you’ll find me standing right behind you.’ Saansad-ji laughed. A listless laugh. His heart wasn’t in it.

 

You’d remember that within four months of my taking over as CM, Jayprakash ji came to UP to campaign for his total revolution. I didn’t try to stop him. I declared him our state’s guest, arguing that not only was he a renowned freedom fighter but a crusader for the good of the common man. This, I did, to restrain the rabble-rouser in him. Look at the response he’s getting wherever he goes! But Indira-ji listens to Shukla-ji’s wily Uncle Uma Kant Shukla and the like. These two things the way Congress was licked in Allahabad by-poll and the welcome extended to JP by my government didn’t go down well with her. There’s something else. She hasn’t taken kindly to my style of functioning . . . No Congress CM is supposed to govern in a manner that casts him as a leader under his own steam. Your only objective as minister or chief minister should be to keep the masses glued to the thought of her person,’ Saansad-ji paused to sip his tea. ‘JP is heading a movement out to undermine the Congress regime, and my action was nothing but a calculated move, a gambit. That’s what I tried to explain to her coterie. Some agreed. What I should worry about most, Ram Mohan, is the misgiving she might have about my motive. That’s why somebody advised me to avoid the trap of going after personal popularity.’

 

***

Get your copy of The Politician Redux by Devesh Verma wherever books are sold.

Drama, Doves, and the Big Man’s Fall!​

Step into a world of unexpected turns in After Messiah by renowned journalist and author Aakar Patel. Explore an ill-fated inauguration, where even the best-laid plans couldn’t prevent the catastrophe that lurked over the Big Man. From polished facades to chaotic twists, read this exclusive excerpt to know more about the event that captured the nation’s attention for all the wrong reasons.

 

After Messiah
After Messiah || Aakar Patel

***

He strode directly to the podium, where an announcer was already concluding her brief introduction hailing him. The chief minister attempted to walk with the Big Man but was taken by the arm by one of the escorts and led away into the audience. The announcer fled, and the Big Man now stood alone, facing his people, with flags framed to either side of him. He looked to his left at the battery of cameras and scowled. The senior-most bureaucrat present scampered up to find out what the problem was. The sun was in the wrong place, behind the Big Man. His image would not be lit but appear in silhouette.

The cameramen, a couple of them grumbling, were asked to dismantle their equipment and shift it all across to the other side. This took a few minutes, and the crowd waited. The media crew held off live coverage as instructed. The Big Man glanced at the new position taken by the cameras and, now satisfied, began to speak.

 

He spoke of the misery of the past, the great advances of the present and the glory that was coming soon if it was not already here. It was his standard theme. This hospital would serve the community as it had never been served before. It would help the locals achieve their dreams and those of their children. It was an institution whose founding was the start of an era, and it was only one of many coming up. Times had changed, and this phase in time was a new one, like no other.

 

The Big Man’s content sounded, to some, banal, but his delivery was energetic and often emotional. Certainly, he appeared to be moved by his own words. The audience was not silent and joined in to scream when he led it through the slogans, and it shouted ‘yes!’ and ‘no!’ to the rhetorical questions he posed.

 

Yes, this was a historic occasion. Yes, their lives were better under the Big Man. No, they had never been hopeful in the past. No, the ones who had come before him were not honest. And so on.

 

After he was done, he picked up the remote control on the lectern and raised it to give it a click. From behind the building, a large flock of doves was released and flew up in a disorderly fashion. Some of them had been painted in different colours, to display the colours of the national flag as they rose. But the thing could not possibly have been rehearsed, since the birds flew off once released, and the effect on the whole was chaotic rather than impressive. The Big Man did not communicate his displeasure, but the senior-most bureaucrat grimaced and made a note of who would be held to account.

 

The click had also unveiled a large plaque set around a little concrete circle. It bore some text in the ancient language along with a religious symbol that resembled the Rod of Asclepius but had been altered to make it seem indigenous. The Big Man touched it reverentially and bowed to it.

 

He then stood, appeared to look at the ground and fell on his face, going straight down like a tree. The head bounced once off the paved surface, but the body was still and the hands perfectly aligned to either side, almost as if the going down had been deliberate.

 

It may have been some undetected condition, or perhaps it was something else. The Big Man had died on his feet, in an instant and without warning.

 

The crowd waited for him to rise again. The cameras continued to broadcast the scene, capturing the Big Man’s elegant soles and still hands. The senior-most bureaucrat was unsure what to do, and his concern mounted rapidly. It was out of the question that he would muster the courage to disturb what appeared to be some unrehearsed ritual. (Was the Big Man praying to the hospital?) The armed escorts had been looking into the crowd and to their sides, unaware that behind them the life they were protecting had departed. Their supervisor, a man who had served in the military, first noticed what had happened. Familiar with the relaxed slump of dead bodies, he
sprinted to the corpse with a shout and sounded the alarm. The senior-most bureaucrat, now in full-blown panic, also hobbled quickly over with his juniors. The crowd became restive, and the large police presence between it and the building slowly melted as the chaos grew.

 

The Big Man’s body was picked up and taken to the hospital by the armed escorts, who now assumed charge. Inside they discovered that there was no treatment available in the building—it was not an operational hospital.

 

They took the body back to the helicopters, buckled the Big Man into his seat, his head now to one side, the sunglasses askew, his mouth slightly open and his eyes expressionless. The escorts shouted instructions at each other over the thump of the rotor blades, reached an agreement, signalled through raised thumbs and flew off. The chief minister tried to get into his ride but was pushed away. He did not resist and went off to figure out his way home, and what he would have to tell the party and the media. The senior-most bureaucrat called the Big Man’s office, and told them what he had seen and what was headed their way.

***

Get your copy of After Messiah by Aakar Patel wherever books are sold

Champions of Change: 8 Trailblazers in Indian Politics

Step into the revolutionary world of political biographies, where we uncover the personal stories and untold struggles behind the influential figures who shaped our history. From the halls of power to the battlegrounds of rebellion and change, journey alongside these 8 trailblazers in Indian Politics whose stories continue to inspire and provoke thoughtful reflection.

 

Madam President
Madam President || Sandeep Sahu

Madam President is the first-ever comprehensive and authentic biography of Droupadi Murmu, the fifteenth President of India, by senior journalist Sandeep Sahu. Murmu’s long and eventful political journey is a story of true perseverance and inspiration. Having battled early years of struggle in securing quality education, being struck by a series of personal tragedies such as the loss of her husband and two sons in quick succession,
and suffering electoral victories and losses, Murmu has risen through her circumstances with grace, fortitude and resilience that make her the well-revered leader she is today.

 

Maverick Messiah
Maverick Messiah || Ramesh Kandula

Nandamuri Taraka Rama Rao, widely known as NTR, was not merely a film star who strayed into politics and captured power in Andhra Pradesh. The actor-politician redefined the political culture in the state and scripted a new political idiom.
His rather dramatic entry into politics, the profound impact he left on the people of Andhra Pradesh and the vital role he played in national politics during his relatively short political life, however, have not received deserving recognition.
Maverick Messiah captures the different facets of NTR’s life in all their varied hues and puts in perspective the significant contribution of the actor-politician to the Indian political tapestry.

 

 

Kannur
Kannur || Ullekh N.P.

Born in Kannur and brought up amidst some of the tallest political leaders of the state, author Ullekh N.P. delves into his personal experiences while drawing a modern-day graph that charts out the reasons, motivations and the local lore behind the turmoil. He analyses the numbers that lay bare the truth behind the hype, studies the area’s political and cultural heritage, and speaks to the main protagonists and victims. With his journalistic skills and years of on-the-field reporting, he paints a gripping narrative of the ongoing bloodbath and the perceptions around it.

Ullekh’s investigations and interviews reveal a bigger game at work involving players who will stop at nothing to win.

Sunrise Over Ayodhya
Sunrise Over Ayodhya || Salman Khurshid

 

On 9 November 2019, the Supreme Court, in a unanimous verdict, cleared the way for the construction of a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

As we look back, we will be able to see how much we have lost over Ayodhya through the years of conflict. If the loss of a mosque is preservation of faith, if the establishment of a temple is emancipation of faith, we can all join together in celebrating faith in the Constitution. Sometimes, a step back to accommodate is several steps forward towards our common destiny.

Through Sunrise Over Ayodhya, Salman Khurshid explores how the greatest opportunity that the judgment offers is a reaffirmation of India as a secular society.

Bose
Bose || Chandrachur Ghose

Was Bose really a Nazi sympathiser? Knowing very well about the strong public opinion that existed among the political leadership and the intelligentsia in India against Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and imperial Japan, why did he risk his own political image by allying with the Axis powers?

Pacey, thought-provoking and absolutely unputdownable, Bose: The Untold Story of an Inconvenient Nationalist will open a window to many hitherto untold and unknown stories of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Probably the first critical biography of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose till date.

 

Savarkar A Contested Legacy from A Forgotten Past
Savarkar A Contested Legacy from A Forgotten Past || Vikram Sampath

This two-volume biography series, exploring a vast range of original archival documents from across India and outside it, in English and several Indian languages, historian Vikram Sampath brings to light the life and works of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, one of the most contentious political thinkers and leaders of the twentieth century.

Comprehensive, definitive and absolutely unputdownable, this two-volume biography opens a window to previously unknown untold life of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

 

Furrows in a field
Furrows in a field || Sugata Srinivasaraju

Furrows in a field narrative is instructed by Gowda’s rich parliamentary record, archival material and interviews conducted with people associated with him at various stages of his life. The layered narrative is further nuanced by Gowda’s own voice, gargantuan memory, a close reading of the time when he made history and the currents of destiny that preceded it. Although Gowda has spent most of his years in Karnataka and has become a symbol of the federal idea, this book argues that the diverse national imagination and sincerity that he deployed as prime minister had magically lit up different corners of India.

 

Hisila
Hisila || Hisila Yami

In this fascinating book, Hisila Yami traces her journey from being a young Nepali student of architecture in Delhi in the early eighties to becoming a Maoist revolutionary engaging in guerrilla warfare in Nepal. Yami was one of the two women leaders who were a part of the politburo of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), which led the People’s War in the country that changed the course of its history forever.

Know the Emergency in 10 Points

In 1977, two staff reporters – John Dayal and Ajoy Bose –  at the Patriot, occupied highly advantageous positions during the nineteen months of the Emergency to observe the turmoil wrought in the capital city of Delhi. In their book, For Reasons of State, they have supplied first-hand evidence of the ruthlessness with which people’s homes were torn down and the impossible resettlement schemes introduced.
From For Reasons of State come ten of some the starkest scenes of the Emergency:
The ‘Young Prince’

An aphorism for injustice

The ruins of a civilization

Dog Days are Over

Family Planning

La Femme Fatale

The creation of an ‘Indian Scarlet Pimpernel

  Rallying Rebellion

Trouble at Court

Is history repeating itself?

 
 

error: Content is protected !!