Those were the days, my friends…
Hardeep Puri has edited a very readable anthology to celebrate the centenary of the Delhi University, with a foreword by DU’s most famous graduate, Amitabh Bachchan. While Amitabh studied the BSc General course at Kirori Mal college, he talks about life and culture at DU, about spending hours at the university coffee house and outside the Miranda College bus stop. “Yes, it was always outside Miranda House,” he adds. Others who have contributed include Shashi Tharoor, Justice Chandrachud, Sanjeev Sanyal, Kiren Rijiju, Arnab Goswami, Dinesh Singh, Bibek Debroy and Lakshmi Puri. In his own essay, Hardeep Puri talks about how his first interview was at St Stephen’s College, which, as he says, “did not go well”. The next one was at Hindu College which he aced in three minutes, reciting lines from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as he had once played the role of Mark Antony (no, not the oft quoted “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech). But as Puri notes there was a delicious irony in the fact that after his post-graduation from Hindu College, he was invited back to St Stephen’s as a lecturer. In fact, this is one reason why one often mistakes Hardeep Puri to be a Stephen’s alumnus, and not from the college across the road—for Hardeep Puri’s aura is definitely more Stephanian than from Hindu, and I say this as a compliment.

Rahul Jodo Yatra
There is a certain upbeat mood within the Congress despite the fact that the party has very little hopes of winning the next round of Assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal. However, the crowds at Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra have given the party some hope that all is not lost. In fact, the optimists within the party have begun talking about another yatra, this time from the east to the west, covering Gujarat; or maybe even a series of yatras till 2024. While the mainstream media is not focusing so much on the minutiae of the yatra, Rahul’s social media team is doing him proud, catching some warm, candid moments on Instagram and Twitter. The reel of Rahul running in slow motion while holding hands with the former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has gone viral on social media. Can Rahul keep the momentum going, specially when the yatra enters some BJP ruled states in the north? For now, he seems committed to it and also seems to be enjoying the interactions. The media too is welcomed at the events, with Rahul dropping some of his hostility that he usually displays at press conferences. The benefits of this are visible in the kind of feedback he is getting, with reporters posting short reels and moments from the yatra on social media.

Will Bharat Jodo break for Gujarat?
There has been some criticism that while Rahul is focusing on his own rebranding, he is ignoring the party’s need for a star campaigner in Gujarat and Himachal as the yatra is bypassing these states. The initial planning may have been to deflect Rahul from any electoral losses that the party may face in the next round of Assembly elections, but the absence is glaring. There seems to be a rethink to involve both Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the campaigns, for both states have a sizeable Congress presence. Moreover, Arvind Kejriwal seems to be taking advantage of the Congress’ neglect and is making his presence felt, especially in Gujarat. There is also the problem of Rajasthan, which the leadership seems to have shelved for now, but as Rasheed Kidwai pointed out in “Roundtable”, if the party doesn’t deal with Rajasthan soon it could lose the state and be left with only one garh (stronghold), that of Chhattisgarh.