Wednesday, October 28, 2015

When Arun Shourie redefined BJP as Congress + Cow!

Probably the worst thing to happen to a leader with statesman like airs is to become a butt of laughter and sarcasm – going by the spiralling jokes around the Indian PM Narendra Modi in the media these days, he may soon outdo the former Congress PM Manmohan Singh by a wide margin.

But last Monday the tormentor who joined the jeering crowds turned out to be none else than Arun Shourie a revered figure in the BJP-RSS circles. On the occasion of a book launch in Delhi the well-known journalist and a prominent figure from BJP Shourie claimed that Modi’s Prime Minister’s Office [PMO]  has proved to be the weakest in history. This is indeed the most scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government seen in the last eighteen months since the new government was formed.

The fact that the criticism comes from within the fold is telling enough but the vehemence of the remarks made by Shourie is unprecedented. A dismissive knee-jerk reaction to the remarks may be that perhaps Shourie like several other senior BJP leaders is airing his grouse at not being given due consideration by the Modi government. But if you look at the specific barbs, you may begin to see why Shourie’s charges against the Modi government are finding wider resonance in the country.

The report in question quotes Shourie as saying ‘The way to characterise the policies of the government is – Congress plus a cow. The policies are the same’. This refers of course to the current controversy around beef and cow protection that has overshadowed all other public concerns in India, thanks to BJP-RSS and the vigilante groups encouraged by them.

Shourie’s arguments in the favour of his sarcasm are as follows:

a) National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is  more interested in managing the media coverage than the economy. 

b) There has never been as great a centralisation of functions, not power, of functions in the PMO as now.

c) Industrialists are afraid of speaking against the government. 

d) The NDA government should embrace everybody instead of getting into “boxing matches” with states and the opposition

The specific reproaches and the sarcasm together seem to suggest that Shourie is close to giving up on the Modi regime. The question is what others within the BJP fold think and how soon they will decide to make themselves heard. This is important since even those well-wishers of the Indian democracy who oppose BJP most vehemently are hoping the party will make more space for dissident voices and that they may lead the ruling party out of the rut dug in by a small coterie around Modi.

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