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In all that focus on Humpty Dumpty, Alice in Blunderland and Tarzan, and on Mr Vajpayee's wanting to remove Mr Modi in 2002 and all that happened during Kandahar, what seems to have escaped attention is that Mr Arun Shourie also briefly expounded on what happened in Gujarat, and very much proceeded to offer his own version of "when a big tree falls" and Newton's third law of motion
After pointing out that he "was more affected by Atalji’s pain than by what had happened in Gujarat" and "Maybe this is my inhumanity or something. I can’t claim that I was that great liberal," he went on to say:
"but I must say that I was not all the time for this, that Modi has to go because of the killings, because in my view such things happen as a reaction, as happened in Delhi as a reaction to (Indira) Gandhi’s brutal killing. You can’t then prevent those things. Nobody can prevent those things. "
Shekhar Gupta: Or you need to be an extraordinary leader like Patel to prevent it.
Arun Shourie: Yes. But that is a very rare person.
Shekhar Gupta: But that is what leadership is all about, to do the right thing at the right time.
Arun Shourie: But there is another point to leadership. That is moral authority. You can’t run around behind every policeman and say, ‘No, no you are not checking the riot’. So you must have moral authority... Unless you have that, you cannot control police persons or anybody in such situations.
Shekhar Gupta: I do know that this always rankled with Vajpayee, that he was thwarted.
Arun Shourie: Yes, no doubt about that.
Shekhar Gupta: And I think he finally accepted with resignation that maybe this was too central to the party’s core, he was not able to defy it.
Arun Shourie: Well, either it is the party’s core or it may be his understanding of society. In my view, it is not so much about party as this is about humans... After all, in Delhi it was not the party, it was Congressmen. That is how societies react. If the state abdicates its authority, the state will take its revenge.
This is not how those who saw 1984 or 2002 and have dealt with issues of law and order felt. Why, even the person he quotes with great respect on Kandahar, Mr KPS Gill had said about 2002 in this very programme that the "riots" could well have been controlled:
The mobs were coming like Chinese waves.
They were coming in waves and the people who were affected were constantly ringing up and there was no adequate response. All this cannot just be explained by political pressure. At some point of time you have to stand up and say enough is enough.
In this case the police officers?
Entirely the police officers. The law authorises them to shoot, not the political leaders. You can order an inquiry later on, but that’s a different matter. The police officer has to realise he’s not just an officer but also a human being with a conscience.
...You know, the only time I’ve slept badly in my life was in Gujarat. Just hearing the descriptions of what was happening. Never before, never after. Some of the things that happened there were horrible. If you have to maintain law and order you have to be even-handed. You have to apply it every minute.
What do you think of Mr Shourie's claim that "You can’t then prevent those things. Nobody can prevent those things."?
It was Arun Shourie's turn to have a go at BJP, in particular its President Rajnath Singh and Mr Advani. One of the highlights -- a reconfirmation of what Mr Jaswant Singh had said about how Mr Vajpayee wanted Mr Modi to resign after Gujarat riots in 2002 and it was to be done during the BJP's national executive meet at Goa in April 2002 and how there was a "coup" against him.
So asked Atal Behari Vajpayee. Or so says the man described as Advani's problem about the man they called BJP's mukhota, or mask. We are not sure whether Sri Rajnath Singh's description of it as "a geo-cultural concept" would have satisfied him.
As Prime Minister, Atalji rarely used the term Hindutva. The one time he did so on a public platform was to sharply rebuke its narrow, dogmatic and exclusivist projection. The occasion was the launch of a book, India First, authored by the late K.R. Malkani, at 7 Race Course Road in March 2002. Here is how PTI reported his speech on that day. “In a clear disapproval of the recent actions of the so-called practitioners of Hindutva, the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, tonight said it would be better to ‘keep a distance’ from the kind of Hindutva being practised by some now. Speaking at a book release function here, he said when Swami Vivekananda spoke of Hinduism, nobody called him communal. ‘But now, some people have defined Hindutva in such a manner that it is better to keep a distance from it.’ He said Hindutva should not be equated with religion as it was ‘a way of life’. We should keep away from such Hindutva which is stagnant.”
Interesting also that while many have commented on ABV's absence that proved expensive for the BJP this time around, another man, Pramod Mahajan, instrumental for their coming to power, had gone largely unremembered, until today, when Maneka Gandhi felt the need to compare his style of functioning with Arun Jaitley's.
Shekhar Gupta in the Indian Express reminds us, once again, on how both Vajpayee and Advani failed to reposition the BJP as a party of the centre-right rather than a party of the Hindu Right:
Vajpayee, the BJP leader most respected by the minorities, tried, but lost his nerve at the most decisive moment, a moment that, if seized, would have placed him among India’s great statesmen for ever, in fact our first real statesman of the Right, or may be the second, if you place Sardar Patel somewhere there. This moment was the killings of Gujarat in 2002 — on the flight to Goa, for the party national executive meeting, when he had to decide on sacking Modi after his “Raj-dharma” speech. But he blinked. In the process, he diminished himself, and his party, and gave its opponents Modi as their second rallying point after Ayodhya
And then came Advani's Jinnah and Gandhi (Varun) moments... Read on: Hindu rate of BJP growth. Do you agree that if Advani had dropped Varun Gandhi as a candidate from Pilbhit, just as the Congress dropped Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, it would, in one stroke, have brought the BJP "closer to the centre, given it wider acceptability, and enhanced [Advani's] stature in a manner that no website or ad-campaign, howsoever brilliant, could ever have done"?
Siddharth Varadarajan in the Hindu:
The anti-Muslim construct and the threat of violence is a congenital part of the RSS’ philosophical DNA, a genetic flaw so potent that it contaminates anyone who comes into contact with it. Muslims are the enemy around which the edifice of the BJP’s wider politics is built, even if the requirements of legality mean the party has to be guarded in the manner in which it expresses itself. Sometimes, of course, the mask slips, either by carelessness or design. Varun Gandhi is a novice but even a consummate politician like Atal Bihari Vajpayee could occasionally trip up. In a venomous speech at a BJP meeting in Goa in April 2002, shortly after the anti-Muslim violence which shook Gujarat that year started, Mr. Vajpayee, who was Prime Minister at the time, declared: “Wherever Muslims live, they don’t like to live in co-existence with others, they don’t like to mingle with others; and instead of propagating their ideas in a peaceful manner, they want to spread their faith by resorting to terror and threats.”
Read the full article here