Monday, May 9, 2016

The Paper Napkin

Former right-wing intellectual and cabinet minister in the last AB Vajpayee government Arun Shourie has become that very thing he has spent his entire life deriding - a Lutyens-media fueled #AdarshLiberal. In yet another interview to Karan Thapar - which he now seems to be ready to give at just the most convenient of times - he accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of running a presidential-style government and treating people like paper napkins. Alas, as Jaggi points out in his fabulous piece on Swarajya, Shourie is himself being used as a paper napkin by the Deep Congress. Has he ever wondered why he is being feted by the English media, which would not so much have touched him just a few years ago? Why is it that they want him to speak his mind on Modi, but would not dare to ask a question on his entire body of work that has exposed the hollowness of the Deep Congress and how it has subverted the entire country?

Shourie, like every citizen, has a right to speak his mind. But the people hearing him out also have a right to comment on what they think of him. When you decide to become a public face - and air your dirty laundry in public - you have to be ready for all sorts of criticism. Nobody knows this better than Modi himself. And in this case, Shourie is simply missing the writing on the wall. India has embodied a Presidential form of government for a long time. States are run as Presidential governments. Mamata Banerjee, Jayalalitha, Harish Rawat, Raman Singh, etc. are all the great powers of their states. Nobody cares who their ministers are. Nehru (in his latter terms) and his daughter (right from day one) themselves ran the Union government in a very Presidential style, and Sonia Gandhi ran it as a dictatorship. In 2014, people voted for Modi, they voted in a very Presidential-style election. Shashi Tharoor has been campaigning to usher in a US-style presidential system in India for some years now. And why just in India? Do the Prime Ministers' Questions in the UK not imply centralization of authority and accountability on the PM, a la a Presidential system? Alas, to Shourie, this natural choice made by smart people in free and fair elections seems to be a bad thing, the sort of thinking that would otherwise be characteristic of the liberal Delhi Deep Congress.

The greatest irony in all this is that Shourie seems to be looking to the very Deep Congress that he spent his entire life deriding for some succor, as Modi has basically ignored him. It is never easy for anyone in the right wing to criticize the man who provided the intellectual foundation for the 2014 victory, but we must come to the realization that perhaps Shourie didn't mean everything he used to stand for. He was simply looking for his best chances. The Deep Congress has no place for him, so he embraced the right wing. No doubt he was competent and his research was excellent, but he didn't mean it. When things went wrong for him, when the BJP's former Delhi gang (and Shourie's lifeline) was deposed by Modi, Shourie gladly jumped back to the Deep Congress. In other words, his ideas are up for sale to the highest bidder.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. 

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