What should have been thunder is a whimper. Arun Shourie’s accusations against the BJP of which he was an intrinsic part reveal that you can’t be the cat and the cream. He now says he was replaced as a lead speaker in a budget debate because there was fear that he would oppose a proposal that might have benefited Mukesh Ambani. The BJP did not want to be seen as corrupt.
It is 'strike when the iron is hot' time. He did it last year when he called the BJP and some of his party members interesting names (more of that follows). He, of course, was the messenger they were killing. This messenger seems to have nine lives, and maybe more. Some people tend to get blindly impressed by such ‘outings’ without little thought about the machinations at work. Rather impetuously he says there is no difference between the BJP and the Congress. Being no fan of either political party, I would still like to see which way he swings in the near future. Currently he is working on his next book…at Lavassa, I hear!
This was an open letter I wrote to him in August 26 and my stand remains the same. It does not seem dated so am reproducing it in full. Just a small attempt at reviving the messenger to show up the message he did not convey:
Dear Mr. Shourie:
Very impressive performance. But I am disappointed. There was a time when you would quote Faiz and Faraz and not Hickery Dickery Dock…these days you have started quoting damned angrezi fairytales. Where is your swadeshi tongue, sirji? You call the BJP leadership ‘Humpty Dumpty’ and ‘Alice in Blunderland’, the latter is such an overused pun by sophomores. Just thought I’d let you know. You use the term “kati patang” (a free floating kite).
You have taken on the onerous task of becoming notorious. I saw a bit of you on TV last night walking on the green, green grass of Rome, oops, home, in a red shirt. Very fitting, for you have quoted the Chinese chilman, no, no, not the iron curtain but Chairman Mao and said it was time for “bombarding the headquarters. Clean up everybody from top. Bring 10-15 people from the states who are competent and honest and dedicated and reconstruct immediately’’.
I have always maintained that the RSS is the madari (juggler) of the BJP monkey. You have only confirmed it.
A report mentions that you have asked the backstage organisation to take charge, saying that it had been “too democratic’’ and had given too much leeway to the party. You reminded the Sangh that the BJP was its most visible face, its “biggest instrument’’ and could not be left to its own devices. “It should keep an eye on the moral conduct of the party like an eagle.” Then, you challenged the party: “Do what you can.” You have come to believe that there is no space for dissent in the BJP which is being treated like a private property, and no criticism is tolerated or discussed.
This, unfortunately, is double talk. As you know, the instrument, whatever be its size, works on the signals the brain sends out. There is a contradiction when you talk about lack of dissent and at the same time ask the RSS to take charge and do an Operation Expunge. “My prescription is jhatka (one swift execution), not halal (slow execution). Saare, saare (lock, stock and barrel). There should be a transformation.’’
This seems to be your token anti-Islamism. Anyone with some knowledge of biology and slaughter will tell you that in such deaths, the blood congeals and the fright of imminent death poisons the system. You have been a part of it all along.
You talk about “mutual protection and projection’’ within the BJP. Yet, you propped up Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate. Now, because he has banned the Jinnah book, you are on the “it is a scholarly exercise and needs to be seen in that light” trip. For your information, Mr. Modi’s government has banned a few films recently that tackled communal issues; some were art-house types. Did you raise your voice then? It is not as though people were not thrown out of the party before or forced to leave. Remember Govindacharya? Or even Uma Bharti?
In fact, you did not quote any fairytales all these years, and it is not as though the party has overnight had a great fall or blundered through Wonderland. The BJP for most of its life has been in the Opposition. And when it was in power, you supported it with gusto.
If it is the party’s attitude towards Jinnah and why poor Jaswant Singh is being hounded while Advaniji got to sit and play leader-leader, then let me assure you that you can continue to quote Faiz and no one will accuse you of blasphemy. You can even quote Iqbal and it won’t matter.
The current rebellion is also like the mutual protection/projection you are getting ethical about. Watch how the drama is unfolding. Former RSS chief K S Sudarshan has now come to your rescue for handing the organisation the big baton publicly. He said that Jinnah was “a true (Indian) nationalist”. Is this news anymore? But, all those who made these subtle differences between hardline and moderate in the saffron Parivar have been finally outed. The BJP has been soft on you because you have the blessings of the Big Boss. This same RSS and its cohorts treat the Indian Muslims with suspicion. I want to know where is our certificate of nationalism? Not that we need it from anyone, but the blatant hypocrisy is mind-boggling.
You have been a hero. When you exposed that big cement scandal everyone who had never looked at cement beyond what is used for buildings suddenly began to think of it as something very important. A. R. Antulay fell from grace, whatever he had of it. Indira Gandhi, it is widely understood, got a good deal from those deals. You got the smaller bakra. The question is: how much of it was you and your reportage and idealism? You were with the Indian Express, its owner Ramnath Goenka was your guru. He had an axe to grind with Mrs. Gandhi. He had a lot of dope. You got it, did your thing and became history.
Well, these idealistic feeds can be cruel. Goenka was known to not like heroes, especially those he had created. As he had said about you, “But this racehorse will destroy my tonga.”
You were shown the door. It was seen as a huge tragedy. You got to write columns. That is when you became an authority on Faiz etc. Well, your columns were very, very long, so many of us just read the beginning and the end. Some of us discovered Urdu and Pakistani poets because of you. You did this for a while. Then you moved to the Times of India. Imagine that nice little place where every Establishment is ‘mutually protected and projected’. In those days it wasn’t so much about Page 3. It was all Page 1 and editorials. So we still read you because of aforementioned verses, instead of seeing your pictures holding a glass of spiked rooh-afza.
Later you joined the BJP and because you were clean and looked it, we stayed with you. Yet, you never said anything. Now you are doing so. It is difficult to understand. As Alice would say, “I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, Sir, because I'm not myself you see.”
Perhaps a fitting tribute to what you were would best be expressed in the words of the Mughal Emperor, Bahadurshah Zafar:
ya mujhe afsar-e-shahaa na banaya hota
ya mera taj gadayaa na banaya hota
khaak_saari ke liye garache banaya tha mujhe
kaash khaak-e-dar-e-jaanaan na banaya hota*
Yours with hope,
Mad Hatter (“No wonder you're late. Why, this watch is exactly two days slow.”)
* The rough meaning of the verse: the poet says that had I been given some powers why was the crown to be sought, and if I were created as an example of humility then I rue that I was asked to become the beloved of nothingness.