3 Lessons from the Gujarat Election

I have new column for The Print on my three key takeaways from the recently completed Gujarat elections. Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) scored an important victory in its western bastion, the close fight between the BJP and the Congress Party suggests a bruising 2018 election season. Here’s the final paragraph:

Given the BJP’s marked advantage in terms of leadership, organisation, and material resources, no one should question that it has the political upper hand headed into the new year—irrespective of economic realities. The retention of Gujarat, not to mention the addition of Himachal Pradesh to the BJP’s kitty, will allow Modi and Shah to breath a heavy sigh of relief. But the relief could be short-lived if Gujarat is any indication of the fight that is in store in 2018.

You can read the entire piece here.


John Harriss reviews “When Crime Pays”

I was really pleased to learn that John Harriss, one of the most distinguished political science scholars of India, recently reviewed my book for Commonwealth & Comparative Politics. I was even more pleased to read that Harriss calls the book a “tour de force” and a “rich source of intriguing observations and acute commentary.”

Here’s a snippet:

The presence in politics of criminals with very serious charges standing against them was evidently accepted as being more or less normal. Vaishnav went on to complete the thesis at Columbia University on which the book is based in order to explore how and why this has come about and the implications of the presence of so many criminals in politics. It is a remarkable book, combining vivid narrative – some based on the author’s own fieldwork – about election campaigns, and the lives and actions of criminal politicians, with painstaking analysis, especially of a dataset based on the affidavits submitted by nearly all the many thousands of candidates who stood for state and national election between 2003 and 2009. The book is meticulously argued and has prodigious numbers of endnotes reflecting extraordinary monitoring of media sources.

You can read the entire review here.