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Ashok Malik in the Hindustan Times:
The Internet Hindu has blogged and tweeted and emailed exultantly about the defeat and exile of Husain. In parallel, a new campaign has gathered momentum, centred on a new hate figure: Wendy Doniger.
Why are these Internet Hindus worthy of notice at all? There are three reasons. First, a collective of the intellectually inadequate, the professionally frustrated and the plain bigoted, they represent the collapse of Hindu politico-intellectual space into a caricature of the very Talibanism it opposes.
Second, as Hindutva as an idea has contracted in real-world politics, it has become shrill and over-the-top in cyberspace. The Left has its universities, journals and institutional support system. It is a commentary on Internet Hindus that they only have multiple email accounts.
Third, there is a hard question for the BJP. How quickly can it delink itself from Internet Hindus and their offline equivalents? A party that seeks to build broad-spectrum opposition unity in Parliament on governance issues can do without such viral downloads.
Just a few days back, incidentally, Swapan Dasgupta, another journalist considered close to the BJP and a party strategist, had this to say in the Telegraph:
In the past decade, the threshold of tolerance in India has been lowered considerably — thanks in no small degree to the takeover of the internet by competitive extremists. ‘Sensitivity to faith’ has come to mean accommodation of organized blackmail.
The successful anti-Husain and anti-Taslima protests have to be seen in the context of a progressive shrinking of the enlightened public space. India imagined it would be a world player on the strength of its ‘soft power’. Today, that power is being steadily undermined by the clash of rival ghettos. The nonsense has gone on far too long and has touched dangerous heights. It’s time the country extends democratic rights to those who offend fragile sensitivities.
On Monday, Coomi Kapoor stated the obvious that seems to be getting lost in the recent brouhaha:
Analysed carefully the recent displays of defiance against the BJP leadership fall into different categories, though many assume it all of a piece. Sudheendra Kulkarni and Brajesh Mishra’s expressions of discontent cannot be lumped with the rebellion of senior party leaders Jaswant Singh, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie. Both Kulkarni and Mishra are basically outsiders who were catapulted to positions of prominence in the BJP’s decision-making hierarchy because of their closeness to the two stalwarts, L.K. Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee....
For Singh, Sinha, Shourie and others like Murli Manohar Joshi, the [Arun] Jaitley and [Sushma] Swaraj appointments [as leader and deputy leader of opposition in Rajya and Lok Sabhas respectively] indicate that the BJP is moving towards a generational change in leadership in which those who are above 65 would be left out.
And in today's Hindustan Times, Ashok Malik summed up the goings-on in the party:
...The BJP became instead a compromise entity, a condominium of factions — both within the party and the wider Sangh family. This stripped the party’s central leadership of its one critical characteristic: authority. The BJP now resembles a free-for-all. Nobody is in charge.
It is facile to see the tussle within as one between pro-changers and no-changers. Things are not quite as clear-cut. There is a continuum between a sense of denial, a cussed refusal to move on, and the inability to give the party authoritative leadership..
For the BJP, there is no quick route out of the mess. A start can be made by insisting on a rigorous, transparent internal election to choose the next president.
So who should that be? Sandhya Jain, the redoubtable daughter of Girilal Jain, the redoubtable former editor of the Times of India, has some clear-cut ideas for who the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha should be:
In my view BJP cannot begin to sort itself out unless Advani is removed from the headship of the organisation. He should be asked to quit his Lok Sabha seat (and take protégé Varun Gandhi with him into the sunset), and the party should ask Narendra Modi to contest Gandhinagar and take over as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament.
This will have the immediate benefit of transition to a younger leadership, with a leader known to the people. The BJP can then thrash out the causes of electoral failure and work out remedies.
Within Gujarat, the immediate benefit would be that alienated leaders (Keshubhai Patel, Suresh Mehta, Rajendrasinh Rana, Gordhan Zapadia, Sankarsinh Vaghela) and communities (Kshatriyas, Patels) can close ranks and give the BJP a fighting chance in the next Assembly elections – else, Gujarat may well be lost, if the Lok Sabha results are any indication.
Read the full piece: Himalyan Shame