No Land’s Man

Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s mission to secure power in media and politics

01 December, 2017


AS AMIT SHAH, the president of the Bharatiya Janata Party, prepared for a three-day visit to Bengaluru in August, the party’s Karnataka unit went into a state of nervous excitement. The BJP’s chances of defeating the incumbent Congress in the state’s assembly election, then roughly half a year away, appeared to be waning, and Shah was to get the party’s electoral machinery rolling in earnest. In anticipation, a senior BJP politician from Karnataka told us, officials of the party’s Karnataka unit drafted an itinerary for Shah, and sent it up the chain for approval. Among the things they proposed was for the BJP president to officiate at an induction ceremony for Rajeev Chandrasekhar, an independent member of the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka. Chandrasekhar, the BJP politician said, was ready to join the party and shed all pretence of his political independence.

When the itinerary came back, Chandrasekhar’s induction had been removed, without apology or explanation. He remained officially unaffiliated. Chandrasekhar’s influence had met its limit.

In theory, the importance of Rajeev Chandrasekhar is indisputable. Besides being a two-time member of the Rajya Sabha, he is a businessman with a rich and wide-ranging portfolio, and a media baron on the rise. More importantly, he is flush with the most vital currency for any enterprising politician—visibility.