a) Accord under strain — on Columbia peace pact

Colombia’s presidential election, due in May 2018, will have a bearing on the fragile peace accord of 2016 that ended one of the longest civil wars in history. The result of the parliamentary election held this month has framed the stiff challenge the pro-peace parties face. The accord between the Colombian security forces and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) had won President Juan Manuel Santos the Nobel Peace Prize; it is to his credit that the government managed to implement the accord in bits and pieces despite unremitting hostility from the right-wing opposition led by former President Álvaro Uribe. Now, in the March 11 parliamentary vote, Mr. Uribe’s Democratic Centre Party has emerged as the largest bloc in the Senate with 19 seats. Two other right-wing parties, Radical Change and Conservative Party, finished second and third with 16 and 15 seats, respectively. In all, the anti-accord parties have 50 seats in a House of 102. They may not have a clear majority, but the popular support they have mustered is undeniable. The ruling Social Party of National Unity won just 14 seats. FARC, contesting polls for the first time, finished with less than 1% of the vote, but is assured representation in parliament thanks to the accord. Over the last year, the record of implementation of the steps in the peace accord has been patchy, though major strides were made in the form of demilitarisation and disbanding of the FARC and its conversion into a legitimate political force. The other key aspects of the accord required Bogota to protect mainstreamed FARC leaders and to prevent right-wing militias from targeting left-wing leaders sympathetic towards the FARC. Yet, in the past year, several left-wing activists — such as leaders of teachers’ unions and mining workers’ unions — have been assassinated by right-wing militia groups. This has prevented the possibility of a similar peace accord with the other remaining insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), whose leadership fears reprisal by militias if they lay down their weapons. Moreover, while the FARC leadership is committed to the accord, some elements of the group are holding out in the jungles, refusing to demilitarise and instead keep fighting. The next couple of months will be crucial for the pro-accord forces, with the parliamentary vote showing how much work they have ahead of them if they want to convince a sceptical electorate — for which memories of the civil war are still quite raw — that peace deserves a chance. For this, they will have to take dedicated steps to overcome the urban-rural disconnect in Colombia. If this not done, the chances of the accord coming undone are dispiritingly high.

b) A non-BJP, non-Congress coalition: Back to Front?

A third front is, by definition, destined for the third place. In its very formation, such a coalition concedes the dominance of the other two players. When Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao mooted a non-BJP, non-Congress ‘federal’ front, he was already defining the alliance negatively, in terms of its opponents rather than as a coming together of like-minded parties. No wonder he found ready support from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, whose Trinamool Congress is fighting the Left and the Congress on one side, and the BJP on the other. A coalition put together on such a loose foundation may not find much resonance among voters nationally. Indeed, in India’s political history, the only instances when non-Congress, non-BJP coalitions came to power were in the ninth and eleventh Lok Sabhas. In each case, the governments were supported from the outside by either the Congress or the BJP. While the V.P. Singh government survived on the BJP’s support, the Chandra Shekhar government was at the mercy of the Congress. The two United Front governments, with H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral as Prime Ministers, were likewise propped up by the Congress. These governments were all formed in post-poll confabulations, and not through pre-poll alliances. Political circumstances have changed and it is unclear whether the BJP and the Congress will support a grouping of smaller parties just to keep each other out of power. In any case, the third front as proposed by Mr. Rao cannot be an electoral alliance in the proper sense. The parties Mr. Rao seems to have in mind do not add to each other’s vote banks: they are mostly fighting their own battles in their own areas. The Trinamool Congress and Mr. Rao’s Telangana Rashtra Samiti of course have nothing in common, other than a shared antipathy to the BJP and the Congress.


After his meeting with Ms. Banerjee, Mr. Rao spoke of a political alternative with a development programme that will “depart from the routine kind of administration” provided by the BJP and the Congress. As a regional party with the Congress as its main rival, and the BJP a potential threat, the TRS is at present irrelevant outside of Telangana. A third front in whatever form is Mr. Rao’s vehicle to arrive on the national stage. Both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are scheduled to have Assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha polls in 2019, and without the pretence of being a part of a national-level alliance, the TRS will struggle to be seen as a serious player in the parliamentary election. By all accounts, Mr. Rao and Ms. Banerjee covered little common ground. Unlike Mr. Rao, Ms. Banerjee was non-committal on keeping the Congress out. For the Trinamool, the Left and the BJP remain the principal threats, and at the national level the Congress is still a partner Ms. Banerjee can do political business with. The federal front can only be a hastily formed post-poll alliance.


1) Bearing on

Meaning: To be connected or related to something.

Example: I don’t see how that information bears on this case.

Synonyms: Affecting, Influencing

2) Fragile

Meaning: Easily destroyed or threatened.

Example: “you have a fragile grip on reality”

Synonyms: Tenuous, Risky

Antonyms: Sound, Durable

3) Accord

Meaning: An official agreement or treaty.

Example: “opposition groups refused to sign the accord”

Synonyms: Pact, Treaty

4) Stiff

Meaning: Severe or strong.

Example: “they face stiff fines and a possible jail sentence”

Synonyms: Harsh, Severe

Antonyms: Lenient, Mild

5) Bits and pieces

Meaning: An assortment of small items.

Example: “there are a number of openings and storage areas for all sorts of bits and bobs”

Synonyms: Odds and ends, Lumber

6) Unremitting

Meaning: Never relaxing or slackening; incessant.

Example: “unremitting drizzle”

Synonyms: Relentless, Continual

Antonyms: Intermittent, Spasmodic

7) Right-wing

Meaning: Conservative or reactionary.

Example: “a right-wing Republican senator”

Synonyms: Conservative, Rightist

Antonyms: Radical, Left-wing

8) Mustered

Meaning: (of a group of people) gather together.

Example: “reporters mustered outside her house”

Synonyms: Congregate, Assemble

9) Undeniable

Meaning: Unable to be denied or disputed.

Example: “it is an undeniable fact that some dogs are easier to train than others”

Synonyms: Indisputable, Indubitable

Antonyms: Debatable, Questionable

10) Contesting

Meaning: Engage in competition to attain (a position of power).

Example: “she declared her intention to contest the presidency”

Synonyms: Enter, Battle in

11) Patchy

Meaning: Not of the same quality throughout; inconsistent.

Example: “your coursework was patchy”

Synonyms: Deficient, Rudimentary

Antonyms: Complete, Comprehensive

12) Strides

Meaning: A step or stage in progress towards an aim.

Example: “great strides have been made towards equality”

Synonyms: Progress, Advance

13) Disbanding

Meaning: (with reference to an organized group) break up or cause to break up.

Example: “the unit was scheduled to disband”

Synonyms: Disperse, Dissolve

Antonyms: Assemble

14) Legitimate

Meaning: Conforming to the law or to rules.

Example: “his claims to legitimate authority”

Synonyms: Legal, Lawful

Antonyms: Illegal, Illegitimate

15) Sympathetic

Meaning: Showing approval of or favour towards an idea or action.

Example: “he was sympathetic to evolutionary ideas”

Synonyms: Encouraging, Supporting

Antonyms: Unsympathetic, Unfeeling

16) Assassinated

Meaning: Murder (an important person) for political or religious reasons.

Example: “the organization’s leader had been assassinated four months before the coup”

Synonyms: Execute, Eliminate

17) Reprisal

Meaning: An act of retaliation.

Example: “three youths died in the reprisals which followed”

Synonyms: Retaliation, Comeback

18) Jungles

Meaning: A situation or place of bewildering complexity or brutal competitiveness.

Example: “it’s a jungle out there”

Synonyms: Complexity, Confusion

19) Sceptical

Meaning: Not easily convinced; having doubts or reservations.

Example: “the public were deeply sceptical about some of the proposals”

Synonyms: Dubious, Doubtful

Antonyms: Certain, Convinced

20) Dispiritingly

Meaning: Not feeling much hope about a particular situation or problem.

Example: The troops were dispirited and disorganized.

Synonyms: Not hopeful

21) Destined

Meaning: Intended (for a particular purpose).

Example: The money was destined for the relief of poverty, but was diverted by corrupt officials.

Synonyms: Planning, Expecting

22) Concedes

Meaning: To admit, often unwillingly, that something is true

Example: The government has conceded (that) the new tax policy has been a disaster.

Synonyms: Admit, Accept

Antonyms: Deny

23) Dominance

Meaning: Power and influence over others.

Example: “the worldwide dominance of Hollywood”

Synonyms: Supremacy, Dominion

Antonyms: Subservience, Subjugation

24) Mooted

Meaning: Raise (a question or topic) for discussion; suggest (an idea or possibility).

Example: “the scheme was first mooted last October”

Synonyms: Raise, Broach

25) Alliance

Meaning: A union or association formed for mutual benefit, especially between countries or organizations.

Example: “a defensive alliance between Australia and New Zealand”

Synonyms: Association, Union

26) Like-minded

Meaning: Having similar tastes or opinions.

Example: “a radio ham with like-minded friends all over the world”

27) Coalition

Meaning: A temporary alliance for combined action, especially of political parties forming a government.

Example: “a coalition between Liberals and Conservatives”

Synonyms: Alliance, Union

28) Resonance

Meaning: The power to evoke enduring images, memories, and emotions.

Example: “the concepts lose their emotional resonance”

29) Instances

Meaning: An example or single occurrence of something.

Example: “a serious instance of corruption”

Synonyms: Example, Occasion

30) Likewise

Meaning: In a like manner; similarly.

Example: “I stuck out my tongue and Frankie did likewise”

Synonyms: Similarly, Correspondingly

31) Propped up

Meaning: To give support to something, especially a country or organization, so that it can continue to exist in a difficult situation.

Example: How long is the government likely to survive without the US military force there to prop it up?

Synonyms: Support

32) Confabulations

Meaning: To invent experiences or events that did not really happen.

Example: He came to believe that these patients were confabulating.

33) Electoral

Meaning: Relating to elections or electors.

Example: “electoral reform”

34) Antipathy

Meaning: A deep-seated feeling of aversion.

Example: “his fundamental antipathy to capitalism”

Synonyms: Hostility, Animosity

Antonyms: Liking, Affinity

35) Potential

Meaning: Having or showing the capacity to develop into something in the future.

Example: “a campaign to woo potential customers”

Synonyms: Possible, Likely

36) Pretence

Meaning: An attempt to make something that is not the case appear true.

Example: “his anger is masked by a pretence that all is well”

Synonyms: Act, Simulation

Antonyms: Reality, Honesty

37) Common ground

Meaning: Shared interests, beliefs, or opinions between two people or groups of people who disagree about most other subjects.

Example: It seems increasingly unlikely that the two sides will find any common ground.

Synonyms: Similar, Same

38) Non-committal

Meaning: Not expressing an opinion or decision.

Example: The ambassador was typically noncommittal when asked whether further sanctions would be introduced.

Synonyms: Doubt, Ambivalence

39) Threats

Meaning: A statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.

Example: “members of her family have received death threats”

Synonyms: Warning, Ultimatum

40) Hastily

Meaning: With excessive speed or urgency; hurriedly.

Example: “maybe I acted too hastily”

Synonyms: Quickly, Hurriedly

Antonyms: Slowly, Carefully

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