A Colourful Bouquet

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An in depth report on the secret working of the Prime Minister’s Office; a blockbuster, all encompassing opinion poll on election-bound Uttar Pradesh; along with other political, policy and lifestyle articles in this issue

By all accounts, Indira Gandhi was rated among India’s most powerful prime ministers, often described as the “only man in the Cabinet”. The victory over Pakistan in former East Bengal cemented her position. Subsequent events including the Emergency saw her plunge to the political depths and although she recovered, she was never the same again.

But some of the institutions she built, including the Prime Minister’s Office, have grown in strength and status. Our cover story by well-known political writer and analyst Sharad Gupta, probes the power and inner working of the PMO under Narendra Modi. As Gupta’s investigation shows, calling it an office would be a disservice because Modi’s PMO is virtually the engine driving the gargantuan machinery called the Government of India.

Every ministry is overseen by the PMO, every minister is answerable to the PMO for his ministry’s performance, and it’s pretty clear that only a few ministers have the freedom to ‘work’ their ministries. The rest remain subordinate to the dictates of the PMO.

Is this good? Is this bad? As clichés go, only time will tell but there’s no doubt Modi sees a degree of centralization as crucial to getting his economic programme through. One could even say, his functioning as prime minister resembles his 13 years as chief minister of Gujarat, when he relied on capable officials to drive the economic agenda.

Gupta’s story is preceded by a peek into history, into how the PMO started, how many people were there, why did it grow in the manner in which it did. For students of political history, this is recommended archival material.

Uttar Pradesh remains in focus given that elections to the state assembly are due in some months. Our exclusive opinion poll (following our successful poll a few months earlier), seeks to gauge the political winds in this sensitive state. Which party is the front runner? Who is the most popular choice for chief minister? How is the BJP managing the contradictions of playing gau rakshak and Dalit rakshak at the same time. The survey results will give considerable food for thought.

Our other stories cover Andhra Pradesh where Chandrababu Naidu, disappointed over the lack of support from the Centre, is mulling other options; Contributor Jaya Raj looks at the state of Indian agriculture and the monsoon prospects;

Harsh Ranjan turns his focus on the media, notably the on screen fight between “high profile” television journalists, one accusing the other of not being “nationalist” enough. One wonders just where TV journalism in this country is going.

As always, our Photo Feature remains a big draw with readers writing in to express appreciation of the quality of pictures. In fact, we take pride in claiming that there is no other magazine in India which devotes the amount of space that we do in projecting the best of Indian photography.

As we move into the festival season, and the gradual transition from the heat and humidity to more pleasant days, our thanks to you the reader for keeping up the Parliamentarian habit. Our website is undergoing a major upgrade with more features. Keep reading and keep writing.

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