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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.
Nothing illustrates the dilemma faced by the BJP better than the recent exchange of words between two journalists considered close to it. Swapan Dasgupta's article in the WSJ yesterday, Reinvigorating the BJP, led to the following exchange with the Pioneer's Kanchan Gupta:
KanchanGupta Noticed tectonic shift in Swapan's formulation of Ayodhya dispute: No mention of Ram, says Hindu claim based on 'faith', mosque 'existed'.
KanchanGupta @swapan55 argues for return to 'centrist space'. Hmmm, so 'Right' is out. Interesting.
KanchanGupta@swapan55 juxtaposes what Hindus 'believe' to be sacred with Muslim reality that a mosque 'existed'. Refer his earlier writing for contrast.
KanchanGupta@swapan55 says NaMo 'controversial for alleged complicity in the infamous sectarian killings of 2002.' Endorsement of 'secular' canard?
swapan55: @KanchanGupta If KGupta wants to pick up a semantic fight to prove he is Lone Ranger of loony Hindutva, he can go ahead. Best wishes 2 him
KanchanGupta: @swapan55 Let me disappoint you. I am not interested in picking a fight over semantics. Nor do I think Hindutva is for loony toons.
KanchanGupta: @swapan55 If your WSJ article reflects the 'new' BJP, I wish you and the BJP the best.
KanchanGupta: Btw WSJ carries a matching pic of Gadkari with @swapan55 's reivention of BJP. He is shown wearing garland of gajar, tamatar, baingan..
KanchanGupta: And before I log out, please to notice implicit praise for Dilli4 who have brought BJP down in @swapan55 's article. More power to him/them.
swapan55: @KanchanGupta With friends like you, the Congress can look forward to uninterrupted power for decades to come. 23 minutes ago via web in reply to KanchanGupta
KanchanGupta: @swapan55 And with friends like you may BJP be able to hit at least 50 to retain bangla-gaadi for LoP. And no, this isn't a loyalty test.
Read the full WSJ article and tell us what do you think?