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M.J. Akbar: Then And Now

M.J. Akbar on joining the BJP: Senior Journalist M.J. Akbar Joins BJP

"I have come back to politics because of policy (main rajniti me niti ke liye wapas aya hu). The crisis in front of the country is known to all. This is an opportunity to do whatever little we can do for our country

"It is our duty to join hands with the voice of the nation and bring the country back to a recovery mission. I look forward to working in BJP...

"It is not only that there is crisis. But now I also see a solution to the crisis. Narendra Modi's leadership is essential for the country"

"In ten years, no other politicians has gone through so much scrutiny as Modi has gone through. He was scrutinised by police, central government, CBI, court-appointed institution"

"And those who rake up this issue all the time, I want to tell them to read the Justice Krishna report. How many people are there in Gujarat who are in jail through the legal system. More than 100. Can one tell me the numbers as far as the 1984 and 1993 riots are concerned" 

From the link in Mr Varadarajan's tweet, MJ Akbar's 2002 article: Why Modi deserves Nishan-e-Pakistan:

Modi has been trying to destroy the idea of India as a nation in which every citizen is equal irrespective of his faith. He has provided the evidence that was once offered only as argument.

That is not the only major favor that Modi has done to Pakistan. Till he started his lynch-mob response to the cruel tragedy of Godhra, all the negative focus of South Asia was concentrated on Pakistan and the state of terror that had been spawned by the state of Pakistan, to use a depressing pun.

Modi has, in a space of days, taken Pakistan off the world’s front pages and replaced it with Gujarat. Suddenly, the stories of violence and state-sponsored terror are all coming from Gujarat, each day’s tragedy focused through television cameras. If President Pervez Musharraf has not yet sent a thank you letter to his benefactor in Ahmedabad, then the president is remiss....

...He actually uses hatred as a political weapon, and employs both subtle and crude means to provoke a similar passion among others. You can see the difference in his eyes; there is gloat floating in them. This is why it is especially dangerous to leave power in the hands of a man like him. It is almost implicit that anyone who has been soaked in the RSS version of Indian history has acquired a deep sense of grievance against Muslims, but Modi is not the only graduate from the RSS school. You do not see this intense, Nazi-type hatred in either the attitude or the behavior of others from this school; the political stance, even when it is acrid, does not become a personal vendetta against a community...

M.J. Akbar in the TOI on Khushwant Singh: The rebel who preferred ideas to ideology

Khushwant preferred ideas to any ideology. He was, in a sense, profoundly non-ideological. He thought the Left, which was the intellectual fashion of the age, was inherently antagonistic to individual liberty, which he prized above all else, because of its doctrinaire traps. He saw doctrine as a casket, fit for a graveyard. And the right was too strident for his tastes. He wandered around the productive middle, taking positions on merit.

Hartosh Singh Bal punctures it in a tweet:

Arun Jaitley on his blog, recently when Rahul Gandhi invoked the comparison with Hitler: The Godwin Exchange

Yesterday I heard a few extracts of the speech delivered by Rahul Gandhi in Gujarat. He compared Narendra Modi to Adolf Hitler. Rahul Gandhi may have been a young child in 1975 when his grandmother Smt. Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister decided to proclaim the internal emergency....I had no doubt that the only Indian politician in post independence India who drew inspiration from Adolf Hitler was Smt. Indira Gandhi. The comparison between Hitler and her was startling.

M.J. Akbar in the Dawn, circa 2002: Congress is BJP’s B-team

Modi is an ideologue, with a difference. The difference is hysteria. It is an edgy hysteria, which can mesmerize; and it easily melts into the kind of megalomania that makes a politician believe that he is serving the larger good through a destructive frenzy against a perceived enemy. In Hitler’s case, the enemy was the Jew; in Modi’s case the enemy is the Muslim. Such a politician is not a fool; in fact, he may have a high degree of intellect.

But it is intellect unleavened by reason, and untempered by humanism. If Modi wins big, he will immediately seek to make the whole of the BJP a version of his Gujarat experience. He is already visibly contemptuous of the senior leadership of his own party. One reason why Advani got poor crowds was because Modi wanted to prove to his official boss that in Gujarat, it was Modi who ran the show, not anyone from Delhi.

Modi will mount a challenge within his party, and get some support too; he will dream of becoming prime minister of India after a national victory fashioned through the Gujarat rhetoric. He will depend on terrorists to supply him with Godhras elsewhere in India.

The flaw in the dream is that long before Modi gets anywhere near Delhi, he will have destroyed the BJP.

M.J. Akbar today in the Economic Times: Journalist and ex-Congress MP M J Akbar on why he chose to join BJP

Anyone who speaks in public, whether master orator or ordinary word-shuffler, comes to a platform after some preparation. The one eventuality no one can quite prepare for is a crisis; and there is no crisis greater for an individual than a threat to one's life. At that moment, the reaction is more likely to emerge from a heart than the head.

The bombs that began to burst at Narendra Modi's Patliputra rally were aimed at the crowds, of course, but also at him. His instant response was to ask a powerful question to both Hindus and Muslims that went to the crux of the principal challenge before our nation, and included its solution as well. He asked these two great communities to choose: they could either fight each other, or together they could confront that shaming curse called poverty.

Hartosh Singh Bal on Twitter:

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