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Tuesday, Sep 28, 2021
Outlook.com
Outlook.com

Naveen Patnaik's New Secularism

Naveen Patnaik's New Secularism
Naveen Patnaik's New Secularism
outlookindia.com
1970-01-01T05:30:00+05:30

Mukul Kesavan in the Telegraph:

The main reason why Patnaik’s declared revulsion at the BJP’s communal politicking during and after the violence in Kandhamal is met with scepticism is that his pluralist, secular conscience seemed to have been hibernating during the Gujarat pogrom in 2002. And this is reasonable: horrible though Kandhamal was, it was, at best, Gujarat in miniature. So why was Patnaik straining at a gnat, having swallowed the camel?

There’s a straightforward answer to that question. For Patnaik, the pogrom of 2002 happened elsewhere. Any taint by association on account of the BJD’s membership of the NDA could be explained away by saying that the agenda and the doings of BJP satraps were the responsibility of that party alone. This was the position taken by Chandrababu Naidu, by Mayavati and by Patnaik.

Very rarely do I find myself disagreeing with Mukul Kesavan's well-thought out, nuanced arguments, but the following just doesn't add up:

...he is the son of Biju Patnaik, a buccaneering cosmopolitan whose single greatest act of derring-do was air-lifting nationalists in Muslim majority Indonesia out of Dutch captivity. He’s also the writer Gita Mehta’s brother. It’s hard to fit the ethnic cleansing of Christians into this family profile.

Sounds suspiciously like a PLU rationalisation to me. They said pretty much the same about many things that Nehru's daughter and grandsons did -- or the great grandson said recently, for example.

But despite the above reservations, it does make a nuanced argument and is right in suggesting that, yes, Kandhamal did perhaps play a part in Patnaik's decision. But it obviously was not so much to bring about a parting of the ways immediately. For Pataniak himself did engage in long, tortuous negotiations over seat-sharings with the BJP much after Kandhamal. It is an interesting thought experiment to ponder over just how many seats more would have ensured he stayed with the BJP.

Read the full article: A Matter of New Scruples

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