Curtain raiser – 2019 Lok Sabha Elections?

  • INC outshines BJP in Chhattisgarh. MP’s battle went down the wire. Rajasthan played as expected; changed the incumbent government after a term.
  • INC got a shot in the arm. Rahul Gandhi finally passed the leadership test with flying colors?
  • Positive signs for a Mahagathbandan. BSP and SP extending support is a welcome sign from INC’s perspective.
  • BJP has a lot to ponder. However, this could act as a wake-up call for them.


Winning or losing is less important than strengthening the country” – Indira Gandhi. Every time there is an election, our belief in democracy strengthens. It is truly a wonderful way to make politicians accountable to the people. This time we are talking about the recent assembly elections with a major focus on hindi heartland states – Chhattisgarh, MP and Rajasthan. We will not get into the misses and hits for the political parties (better left to political pundits) and try to view the election results through an optimistic lens.

Some see these elections as a semifinal to the general elections, some as a wave of change, however, these elections have far reaching ramifications. This is one semifinal where neither the losing party is knocked out of the competition nor the winning party can think that they are through to the finals. In our opinion, this election was much more important for INC, as a loss in this would have put them out of the race in 2019. Election results have come at an opportune time for INC and they have managed to pluck the lotus out of the three states. More than a victory in the elections, it is the moral victory for INC that will give the necessary confidence to face the finale in 2019. Rahul Gandhi was touted as the non – serious entity by the opposition and a question mark was put on his leadership abilities. The victory in the assembly elections will help him get the support of other political parties under the INC umbrella in the upcoming general elections.

rahul-gandhi-s-press-conference_228f59c6-ff80-11e8-8cc1-c9b34ba72f01This was a battle which has something for both the sides – INC got the victory and the much-needed boost before the general elections. We can say this was just what the doctor ordered from INC’s perspective. On the other hand, BJP even by losing the elections have few positives which can work to their advantage in the final face-off in 2019. Firstly, internal party politics of INC which unfolded in choosing the CM of the three states could play a spoil sport for them ahead of the general elections. In events like this, there are chances of party being split into two halves and the workers feeling alienated. Now only time will tell how INC will make sure that the rank and file of the party is united and function as a team in the run up to the 2019 Elections. Secondly, all the parties make over promises during the election campaigns to get votes, but they are put to test when they get the reign. This is going to be a far more challenging task for the INC given there are hardly 4-5 months to fulfill those promises.

Paul Collier famously said, “Elections determine who is in power, but they do not determine how power is used”. We can only say that the way you use this power determines the outcome of the next one.

An Indian in Egypt

Egypt- A country which was in news recently for its political unrest. A country known for its pyramids and the river Nile. While planning the trip we were quite sceptical about how this trip will turn out considering the fact that Egypt is not a usual holiday destination for Indians. So, with all the planning and excitement we took an early morning direct flight from Mumbai to Cairo on 22nd of July 2018.

The Great Pyramid of Giza

Day 1– We reached Cairo quite early in the morning because of time difference of 3.5 hours and after checking-in to our hotel we went to Giza to visit the great pyramids. The view of the pyramid was quite mesmerizing in the bright sunlight. We saw the sphinx too there as it was just beside the pyramids. From Giza we returned to our hotel that was located at the Tahrir Square (the centre-point of Arab spring in 2011). For all our intra-city travel we were using Uber and the service was quite perfect, there is also a local ride hailing service called Careem.

Citadel of Qaitbay

Day 2- Next day, we took an early morning bus from Cairo to Alexandria (the city founded by Alexander the great in 331 BC). Alexandria is located on the coast of Mediterranean Sea. Again, after checking-in to our hotel, we went to the Citadel of Qaitbay which was a very important defence stronghold to neutralize any attack from Mediterranean sea. After citadel, we went to Bibliotheca Alexandrina (the library of Alexandria). When we entered the library, we were surprised to see the grandeur and beauty of it. Its design was unique with a tilted disc shaped structure and diverse collections of books and ancient literatures. We also saw a statue of Mahatma Gandhi there. Finally, we ended our day with a visit to the Stanley Bridge which was well decorated with multi-coloured lights.

Stanley Bridge, Alexandria

Day 3– Our Day 3 was full of travel, so in the morning we went to Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa which showcases Egyptian, Greek and roman culture at one place. This whole structure was used as a burial chamber and it gives you a sense of thrill when you enter inside it as it is located below the ground. From there we went to Cairo in the evening and before catching our late-night bus to Luxor we went to Qasr al-Nil bridge which connects tahrir square and Gezira Island. The bridge is a perfect place to understand how Nile is the heart of Cairo as there are many beautiful places around like Cairo Tower, Egyptian Museum etc.

The Morutary Temple of Hatshepsut

Day 4- Next day we reached Luxor at around 9 am. From bus stop, we directly went to our hotel for which we had to cross the Nile via ferry. After couple of hours, we were ready for our visit to royal and historical Egypt. We asked our host to book a cab for us as Uber and Careem were not available in this town. We started our day from the Valley of Kings. It contains the tombs of many kings who ruled Egypt including the tomb of famous king Tutankhamun. Tourists were not allowed to take any pictures here. We visited tombs of kings like Ramses II, Ramses III, Amenhotep II etc. The weather was quite hot there in the afternoon. So, from here we went to another marvel of ancient Egypt i.e. the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. The design, texture and aesthetics of this structure were quite astonishing. We also went to mortuary temple of Amenhotep III. Then we took rest in the afternoon and in the evening, we went to see the Luxor temple. The Luxor temple was looking quite royal and beautiful with the lighting and decoration.

The Luxor Temple

Day 5- Our Day 5 started quite early, as we took a private boat to visit the Karnak temple which is located quite close to the bank of river Nile. The Karnak temple is considered as the second most visited tourist place in Egypt after the pyramids. The temple is spread in more than 100 acres of land and everywhere there are different types of statues and pillars each signifying various hidden meanings. The pillars there were designed in the form of open or closed papyrus flower found along the Nile. After visiting Karnak temple, we went to our hotel, collected our stuffs and went to catch a bus for our next destination i.e. Hurghada. We reached Hurghada around 9 pm in the Night that day. Hurghada is like the Goa of Egypt located on the coast of Red Sea.

Marina Beach (Hurghada)

Day 6- Our Day 6 started quite late in the afternoon as we were quite tired with non-stop travel. We visited local markets that day and bought a lot of souvenirs as the prices were quite decent. We also visited the Marina Beach of Hurghada and we discovered some good restaurants there. We slept early that day as our next day was going to be quite exciting. We had booked a yacht for going to Giftun Island located in the red sea.

Giftun Island (Red Sea)

Day 7- Our cab arrived at 8.30 in the morning the next day to take us to the yacht. It was around 45 mins of travel from the beach to the island. When we reached the island, we couldn’t believe how the water can be so crystal clear with multiple shades of blue along the horizon. We stayed for an hour on that island and then we went for snorkelling to see coral reefs inside the transparent water. After around 1 hour of snorkelling we had our lunch. Post lunch we returned to the beach. We reached our hotel around 5 in the evening and from there we went to local market to purchase sweets and local delicacies. Since we had planned our return to Cairo that day only, so we went to bus stand around 11 pm to catch our late-night bus to Cairo.

Egyptian Museum

Day 8- On Day 8, we reached Cairo at around 7 in the morning. Since we were feeling quite exhausted by late night travel we took rest till afternoon. From there we went to local market and nearby places. In the evening we went to the Egyptian Museum. Egyptian museum houses thousands of ancient statues and artefacts. It also houses royal mummies of Egypt and the famous mummy of the king Tutankhamun. We spent around 3 hours in the museum as it was full of royal Egypt history.

View from Cairo Tower

Day 9- Next day was our last day in the Egypt as we were travelling to Mumbai in the evening. But we had a plan to end such an exciting trip on a high note. So, we went to the Cairo tower, the 187 m high tower located on the Gezira island in the heart of Cairo. We were quite surprised to see the beautiful city of Cairo from the Cairo tower with river Nile flowing in the centre of the city like the heartbeat of the city. From the Cairo tower, we went to our hotel, collected our luggage and went to the Cairo airport to catch our direct flight to Mumbai.

We used the Go Bus of Egypt for all the inter-city travel and Uber and Careem for Intra-city travel. Food will be a challenge, if you are a Vegetarian. Looking back this was a challenging trip for us with weather, food and language as the major challenges. But the learning and experience was worth it. I would like to end this with the quote I read in the bibliotheca Alexandrina, “Egypt’s civilization was not the gift of the Nile as the Herodotus said, but rather a gift from the Egyptians to civilization and history” – Solaiman Hozayen.

River Nile in Luxor