The BJP must elect its next leader

Only intra-party democracy will help the party bounce back

They are writing the BJP’s political obituary. And unless the BJP shows the vision, wisdom and determination that it has been lacking for the last several years, that obituary will be called for. Yet Indian politics will be adrift without a strong national counter-force to the Congress Party. A ‘New BJP’ and a ‘New NDA’, therefore, is necessary not only for its partisans, but for everyone else too.

Yesterday, a Friend of the BJP was wondering aloud which leader was capable of assuming the reins of the party leadership at this lowest of points and rebuild it into a viable national platform. While this is a fair concern, it presumes the business-as-usual method of selecting the leader—backroom parleys and discussions with the RSS leadership—will somehow suffice. Well, this might suffice for the BJP’s partisans, many of who were responsible for its ending up in the sorry state in the first place, but it is unlikely to guarantee a genuine national centre-right party with mass appeal.

For that the BJP’s card-carrying members must allowed to elect their own national leader in an intra-party election. The election will not only throw up a political leader with the necessary legitimacy to carry out the much needed rejuvenation, it might even attract mere friends of the BJP to become card-carrying members. In fact, this is an excellent opportunity to elect the party’s entire national executive though a nationwide election.

For the BJP, intra-party democracy is not only a nice-to-have, it is one of the best ways of ensuring its own survival. It’s time India demanded this of an important national political institution.

40 thoughts on “The BJP must elect its next leader”

  1. oh, blime. I was asked to leave the party when I asked one of the state cell conveners to conduct elections to choose state executives.

    BJP does not believe in democracy. Its believes in the RSS (Priory of Scion/Free Masonry) style where obedience is paramount and a clique of leaders elevate someone from the lower rung to the next higher level.

  2. Well, if a nationwide intra-party election of party members is the method to reconstruct much less rejuvenate a party then how did the INC manage to become the political superforce it is today compared to 10 years ago when it too had become the subject of countless political obituaries? How do you explain headlines such as “Rahul ‘picks’ come up trumps in Maharashtra”? And similar headlines showcasing MMS atttributing electoral successes to the vision of just one man (Rahul Gandhi)? While it would be ideal to have intra-party elections, the Congress has changed its political fortunes over the course of a decade without resorting to those methods. I am afraid that the practice of truly democratic party setup has been an alien concept to Indian political parties save for the period prior to Indira Gandhi taking over the reins of INC.

  3. @DaveyBoy,

    The Congress and the BJP are very different animals. What works for one need not work for the other, although what works for the other might work for one.

    If the Family can unite and rejuvenate the Congress, then so be it. It’s a good thing. Right now it is the BJP that has the problem. It also doesn’t have a ‘the Family’ so I agree that electing a leader is a good way to go.

  4. A couple points:

    One, while completely agreeing about the need to have a credible national alternative to the Congress, it’s not clear to me that it is BJP alone that should play this role

    For a party to take on such a role, it must offer a competitive national narrative that is inclusive of the diversity India represents. BJP’s core challenge is not lack of intra-party democracy, rather a lack of attractive ideas for the nation. Even on their concept of Hindutva, they have failed to attract a majority of Hindus

    Two, what we really need is a legitimate right-of-center liberalism that invites all Indians to join together in pursuit of individual prosperity and security. If necessity is the mother of invention, then India’s democracy will eventually invent such a dynamic in its political laboratory

    Best regards

  5. Primary Red,

    I agree with you on the BJP not being a real centre-right party, although the ABV government was more centre-right relative to others in recent memory.

    Two issues:

    1. Is the BJP’s ideological position a function of it’s internal lack of democracy? To what extent? I suspect that this is partly the case.

    2. Where does a genuine national centre-right party come from? My best guess is that this requires a split in the BJP that will cleave a centre-right formation…and perhaps attract similar souls from other parties. Such an outcome too requires an election.

  6. PART-A
    ======
    Leadership –

    Congress: One of the strengths (perhaps the only strength) of Congress party with respect to leadership is its stability. The quite acceptance of the following order by the slavish Indians – Sonia => Raul/Bianka => Raihan/Miraya/Columbian-girl/Rahul’s-Children – provides the needed ‘stability’ to the Congress leadership.

    BJP: Getting this kind of stability among ‘free thinking’ yet patriotic Indians is a challenge of its own. ‘Dynastic rulers’ model will simply not cut this kind of self confident Indians. An alternate must be sought that matches or surpasses the Congress Leadership. Rather than following the ‘standards’ set by Congress after independence, we need to take an independent path that learns from systems across the globe during its entire history and seek (or aim for) a ‘perfect path’. This will naturally ‘force a progress’ in our country. Here is one way to do that (any comments and improvements are much appreciated) –

    1) Get all the RSS branches, their affiliates and ‘patriotic citizens’ to ‘register’ with the party – in the lines of what is done in USA. This
    a) adds a psychological element (for registered members) of ‘owning’ and ‘being part of’ the party
    b) helps in tracking, collecting and measuring the sentiments of the active participants

    2) Have an internal elections (like primaries) for the ‘chosen leader’ of the party. This
    a) ensures that the majority of the members would vote for the party as a result of having a leader of their choice and as a result of the leader representing the general sentiments of the majority members
    b) gives the needed respect and adherence from members for the leader – at par with their respect for democracy
    c) reduces (or better – eliminates) the infighting among the top leaders as the verdict has come from their supporters directly
    d) there by inherently brings in the stability for the party leadership at par with that brought by the sycophantic slavish Indians to the ruling ‘foreign’ dynasty of India.

    3) There should be an election (secret ballot) every 3 years for the president of BJP and once before general elections for the ‘PM-in-waiting’. This
    a) distinctly separates the roles played by the positions with
    (i) the president presiding over the activities of the party including growth, development and strategy
    (ii) while the ‘PM-in-waiting’ would either become the PM or the ‘leader of the opposition’ forming a ‘shadow government’ with one-to-one ministries matching the running government
    b) gives an opportunity for people to get more involved in the party affairs – there by gaining their trust repeatedly over the years and thinking more about the development of the country in the lines of the development of the party.
    c) keeps the BJP on the news on a positive note for about 2-3 times between general elections
    d) helps in ‘midterm’ assessment of the leadership atleast once between general elections
    e) keeps the leaders at work because now people are ‘watching them’ every few years!

  7. Let us get down to the basics of Vedic principles and take it to the next level –

    4) Panchayat – the philosophy of the number five (details is out of the scope of this text). The numbers as we see today were an extention of the philosophical thought process with most initial numbers and several higher numbers having specific meaning and philosophy attached to it. There should be atleast 5 contestants for the position of president, with the person securing the highest votes being ‘more equal’ to the next four. This
    a) adds stability to the system (besides the party) leadership as the next four are already lined up – thereby reducing the threat of any disarray in the party if one leader is eliminated (assassination, accident or othewise)
    b) adds depth to the thought process of leadership, as the opinions concurred by atleast 3 has more likelyhood of being correct than that of one [Jinnah’s secularism episode is case in point]
    c) reduces work load/stress on one individual while enhancing their focus on the task they need to achieve
    d) greatly reduces the chance of dissent among the party workers – who no longer see one punching bag
    e) adds checks and balances to each others’ actions

    5) Division of labor among the ‘panchayat presidents’ can be done based on the 4 primal divisions of society – Bhramana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. One handles the social strategy like in tandem with RSS, one handles the aggressive defence elements like Bajrang Dal, one handles financial aspects like getting the rich, powerful and fund raisers under the party’s wing and one handles the day to day implementation details by the party workers. The ‘more equal’ president is like the ‘king’ of ancient times who organizes and runs the 4 wings with the leadership of the other four. This
    a) effectively brings all the ‘independent’ groups under one leadership
    b) makes easy – any group acting outside this framework (like Rama Sena) could at once be condemned or distanced from without a problem. In fact, the likes of Rama Sena would no longer be able to act independently while being associated with ‘hindutva’ or ‘sangh’ or the party. They ofcourse could always be independent mercenaries acting on their own.
    c) helps the leaders lead their division with focus and power that is near equivalent to the ‘president’ of the party
    d) ensures a constant supply of leaders with hands-on experience reducing the fear of losing the party array by losing a ‘leader’
    e) will more likely bring out true leaders of the society without eulogizing them as demi-gods.

    6) The grand patriarchs of the system come up after every generation which roughly spans about 20 years. That is about the time it takes for a person to learn, shape up, contribute and then ultimately be wise enough to guide the younger with the tricks of trade while slowly losing touch with the upcoming generation (of people and thoughts). The president of the party should be between the age of 40 years [the 3rd generational span – the age of 3rd Ashram of life] and 70 years [Considering the longer lives of present generation] and should serve the party for no more than 1 generational span [7 terms = 3X7 = 21 years]. Then they become the equivalent of ‘board of directors’. This
    a) ensures the vitality of the party with new ideas every few decades
    b) keeps in touch with the perceptions of the ‘present active generation’ – Unlike a hot headed Varun or a senile Advani.
    c) will always ensure a ‘reserve set’ of leaders who can always make a comeback if an unforseen crisis arises

    ———–
    This would be a step in the direction of a ‘near perfect system’. This
    a) helps the party to be a step ahead of the current systems
    b) would either catapult the party to the top or force Congress to match it with a similar system – either way, it is a win-win for the country and lose-lose for the dynastic political system of India

  8. On 1, lack of democracy is a reasonable hypothesis although I’d attribute it more to the original sin of bad ideological foundation — which no manner of democracy can fully cleanse

    On 2, it’ll need to come from across the party spectrum, I suspect. There are closeted right-of-center folks in all parties (even the Congress!) who weigh the financial and organizational muscle of their current homes more than their ideological convictions. Afterall, elections require money and muscle. But, if the electorate begins demanding the ROC alternative (which it hasn’t yet), the equation changes

    Best regards

  9. Was the BJP ever truly democratic? It sure was a lot less autocratic than the commies or the dynasty driven Congress, and it did value talent, in times that now seem like a distant memory. Technically though it wasn’t all that democratic — its top leaders were selected, not elected. . An election is not needed even today. Everyone knows who can revive the party and electrify its cadre. The party’s haters know it too — that’s why the mention of that name triggers an outpouring of (mostly feigned) “moral” outrage, for fear that that person may indeed do good to the BJP. Why isn’t the party listening? Could be because the party is already compromised. Swapan Dasgupta hints that Congress has succeeded in managing the BJP, and he maybe right.

  10. Nitin,

    I think BJP has peaked. BJP used hinduvita as a ladder, but there is only so much a party can go with that kind of a divisive ideology. Either BJP must re-invent itself as a nationalist _inclusive_ party or it must hope/instigate more communal violence which will lead to a situaition where Hindu ppl are sacred for their life and vote for BJP. But the problem with divisive ideology is that more hardline parties will appear and cut the vote-bank ..like MNS.

    India _does_ need a strong opposition party, but BJP is not that party. For India’s sake I hope we find a better opposition party soon, a party for and of and by Indians instead of for/of/by religion-fundamentalists who claim that all problems of the nation will be solved as soon as we build a temple!

    –Bala

  11. Greetings!

    Thank you for a timely call for introspection within the BJP. I post the following with no claims to being a fan of the current BJP, but as a concerned Indian who agrees that a robust opposition to the aimless, visionless leftism of an unimaginative Congress is in the national interest.

    I strongly believe that the BJP has to do a deep, down-to-the-bone introspection of itself, which will have to include a questioning of its deeply held instincts. It will finally have to choose between the broad-minded, pluralist Indian / Hindu civilizational ethos that it claims as its ideological anchor, versus the channeling of primal anxieties about the Muslim/ minority/outsider that has become its effective ideology. It will have to end the hypocrisy of highbrow Dharmam soundbites to provide cover for Varun Gandhi’s or Narendra Modi’s bigoted deeds and clearly see the distinction- and decide- between the Vajpayee versus Modi ethoi.

    An energetic center right liberal formation is an important need in India. This is not just to borrow pop paradigms from the West, but is – I firmly believe- the essential ethos of the Indian civilization. Such a formation, presuming it does not descend into insecurity and chauvinism like the current BJP, will be the natural political corollary of the confident global Indian. Not the Hindu victimhood narrative that seems to have enamored him at the moment, for lack of an inspiring alternative.

    It is important for the BJP to realize that in a global geo-polity, bigotry – like markets and ideas – cannot remain walled off for long. India’s democracy and largely liberal- even if inefficient- institutions & media have paradoxically protected the ultra-Hindutva fringe (that speaks loudly against them) from a punishing global glare. However, as the Narendra Modi visa/ Sonal Shah episodes clearly demonstrate, they will eventually be seen or shown, to not just the BJP –but India’s- detriment (not to speak of personal embarrassment for Indians among the many genuine well-wishers of India abroad). If the BJP and its followers truly want India to evolve into a global leader –in hard power and in ideas- let us leave such historical baggage to places that deserve it, like Pakistan or Rwanda.

    I therefore would love to see thought leaders such as your very articulate blog put out these ideas and alternatives out there -as you already appear inclined to- and provide the role models necessary to rescue the BJP (and especially its many intelligent and passionate followers) from the ideological cul-de-sac they appear trapped in.

    Best Regards.

  12. A center-right party could be formed if Nitish Kumar or Naveen Patnaik or both take the initiative. Non-RSS elements in the BJP can also join. Some sort of a revival of the Janata parivar albeit a center-right one. Wonder why Jaswant Singh isn’t working on it already.

    Jaswant, Nitish, Naveen, Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje, Yashwant Sinha, Shatrughan Sinha, Sharad Joshi (Swatantra Bharat Paksha), Babulal Marandi, P A Sangma, Suresh Prabhu, Kiren Rijiju, Bhim Singh (Panther’s party), Jayaprakash Narayan (Lok Satta), Sarath Kumar, Thirunavukarasar, Navjot Sidhu, Najma Heptullah …

  13. Two Issues. 1) Secular space is occupied mainly by Cong.(I) and other parties and BJP can not benefit much by trying to be Secular,Inclusive party.
    2) Right of Center policies are now adopted by Cong. and all these LOC aam Admi schemes are for providing financial support to Cong.workers and Vote Banks through NGOs. Hence with such a profile BJP would appear like a Clone of Congress.( Like NCP).

    Yes. BJP has to elect Leader who can convince people that he/she has ability to amalgamate ROC economic policies with tolerant hindutva sub text.( A la M.K.Gandhi). At present such person is NaMo—PK

  14. Actually, we BJP haters do look forward to that “guy everybody knows is going to energize the BJP”- taking the reins. Personally my dream is to have him campaign up and down for the BJP trashing, hopefully, M.Teresa.

    The re-re-re-sounding loss that would ensue seems to be the only thing that will make the faithful realize there is a fundamental disconnect there somewhere?

    From the ruins then can emerge the second national party that India needs.

    Thx,
    Jai

  15. >>Actually, we BJP haters do look forward to that “guy everybody knows is going to energize the BJP”

    It is indeed a know there are decent BJP baiters like you. But of course I meant not you but the Nandigram-defending and/or proselytism-supporting types who begin to froth at the mouth at the mention of the hated name because they need imagined Hindu ogres to justify their hate. Recently Our Lady of Labored Leftwing Lamentation was hopping mad at The Economist though they said nice things about her, because they also had one decent-sounding statement about the CM of Guj. See what I mean? Modi rallies Hindu-hating nutjobs of the world more than he does the Hindus.

    But you’re absolutely right. Having him at the helm of the BJP is the BJP’s final call; one way or the other.

  16. If BJP does fail, there is no chance of center-right party in India. The play book that was used against BJP, by BJP haters, can easily be used against this new so-called center-right avatar.

    The schizophrenia of likes of fchiramel and PR are self evident – apparent Indic civilization based center-right liberal party, what ever that means. Think about why exactly the current self-proclaimed center-right liberal hate BJP:
    Because BJP
    1) fights appeasement of non-Indian-born religions with subsidies and reservations?
    2) opposes god-less commies and their pets, naxalites, even as they get more powerful year over year?
    3) wants to turn back on socialism and open up economy for higher growth – granted the message is muddled here?
    4) recognize that history of India continues to be distorted by marxist historians?
    5) wanting to build a Ram temple at his birth place after it was destroyed by Islamic invader, precisely because it was a Ram temple?

    How exactly would the new avatar of center-right party of so-called liberals look like? Probably ignore #5? Probably dump on Hindus – can you do any more than what the lefty parties do now?

    And if the new avatar takes up any of the other four items, why won’t people like Jai_C brand the new avatar saffron party or Hindu party or anti-poor party or whatever all over again?

    What does inclusiveness mean if Muslims and Christians look our for their own handouts as religious vote blocks?

    While it needs to get its house in order, BJP has nothing to apologize for. Let the self-proclaimed oxymoronic ‘liberal’ and ‘center-right’ form a party and stand up to guys like Jai_C and other lefties, then we’ll see.

  17. Since Chandra considers a liberal center right formation oxy-moronic, he may wish to familiarize himself with conservative liberalism, as entire parties or as important factions of major parties http://bit.ly/1tvPq0 , distinct but overlapping with European liberal conservatism http://bit.ly/upYJ1

    And this is only because I am forced to define it within Western parameters. Such a formation would/ should ideally be Indic in roots and sensibility, and could also invent its own nomenclature. In condemning Semitic/ Western religions and philosophies, the RSS/BJP has betrayed envy and mimicry of Western socio-political ideologies, including coming very close to secular (!) european fascism. I would have liked to explain more what such a liberal center-right formation could entail, but day-job prohibits at the moment : )

    Regards

  18. >>Since Chandra considers a liberal center right formation oxy-moronic

    It is not oxymoronic,. but is largely irrelevant in India, and largely stands in opposition to those semitic philosophies that you suggest must be carefully sidestepped lest they should bite us.

    Take the case of relevance. The wikipedia page you cited lists examples of “socially liberal” ideas that “conservative liberals” are good on: same-sex marriage, abortion, secularism etc. These are all issues dear to the heart of the Christian fundamentalists who are the lifeblood of the US Republican Party. If the bible-thumpers ceased to exist, so would these issues.

    Consider the reaction of Western conservative liberalism to semitic philosophies. Religion-based personal laws would be anathema to such conservatives, but in India, endorsing or otherwise rationalizing such laws IS secularism according even to those who masquerade as conservative liberals. Many of the West’s conservative liberals are atheists, and their atheism is located mostly in a semitic context.

  19. Oldtimer,

    you still probably are a bit unclear on classical liberalism. classical liberals are liberal on both economic policies as well as individual rights. No classical liberal will question an individuals sex preferences, a mother’s right to abort her child or a individuals right to practice a religion of his choice.

    The use of the word conservatism is more in tune with conserving (fiscal, nature, religion etc) rather than strictly being anti-radical. In India even the communists are opposed to the radicalism of the maoists. And as Rahul Gandhi pushes Congress towards archaic forms of socialism like MGREGA, there’ll be ever greater need for a classical liberal party.

    And lest anyone forget, India is still one of the worst socialists regimes of the world. The level of government interference in people’s lives is staggering. Govt pretty much owns entire industries like banking, oil etc. Imagine a country where a mere Chief Minister decides what books people can read or not!

  20. Dear Balaji,

    >>In India even the communists are opposed to the radicalism of the maoists

    I’m not sure. Only a couple days ago, the police almost captured a leftwing terrorist in West Bengal but the local government let him walk away free. You should never underestimate commie nuts.

    >>And as Rahul Gandhi pushes Congress towards archaic forms of socialism like MGREGA, there’ll be ever greater need for a classical liberal party.

    And every “classical liberal” — a real one, not a pretender — opposes any recognition to religion’s claims in matters of state policy. A good example of a “classical liberal” is Pat Condell, the British satirist. I suggest you watch one of his latest videos where he, beginning with stating that the left used to be his natural constituency, then goes on to take on other liberals, and calls them “appeasement lobby”, “multicultural monkeys” and other such endearing terms — all with a good reason.

    The argument that the only issue with Congress party is its socialism is a bit of a humbug. (Strictly speaking, current Congress policy is statism, not socialism, and its economic policy especially is crony capitalism) .Those who advance this silly line happen to be mostly Muslim/Christian communalists and their apologists. Surely, a communalist can’t be a liberal consrevative?

    >>magine a country where a mere Chief Minister decides what books people can read or not!

    There you have a very good example of the fake liberal conservatives that dot our landscape. Buddhdeb Bhattacharya banned Nasreen’s books to appease Islamists, yet some of our self-styled liberal conservatives consider him as one of their own because he allegedly is pursuing a liberal economic agenda.

    The moral of the story is that one’s economic policy is not the sole yardstick to measure one’s liberal conservatism.

  21. Balaji,

    Careful and informative points, as usual.

    Oldtimer,

    You raise important and obvious issues. I was aware of it as I linked those, and they were only to respond with proof-of-principle to the implication that center right & liberal were mutually exclusive. Indeed, center-right movements in the West are near exclusively liberal by our standards, even if (for e.g). some Republicans would deny the term liberal. A significant majority of GOP endorses gay civil-unions (just not gay marriage or adoption); minority rights are protected and privileged in the GOP- their chairman is Black, and if you even inadvertently use stereotypes or slurs against minorities, you immediately and fatally fall out of respectability- one of recent examples would be Sen. George Allen of VA, once considered GOP presidential frontrunner, who ahd to abandon his presedential aspirations after the public and press furor that resulted on his calling an Indian student “macaca” . And in California the Republicans were only fighting for not allowing illegal immigrants legal drivers license, and not to arrest or jail them!

    That said, the Indian Center Right-liberal (CRL) entity will have to arrive at and define its own values. It can borrow from similar formations in the West, but eventually it will have to find its own balance in congruence to its values. Social liberalism –indeed values- are difficult to transplant across cultures. As a matter of fact, I think, we can even use up to 80% of RSS theory as foundation- but here I draw clear distinction between what the RSSs theoretical pronouncements have been and what its actual actions unfortunately have been.

    Now what would the policies of such CRL formation be and how can it distinguish itself from the INC? My following suggestions are necessarily idealistic, low on details and likely naive- but that is often the nature of such discussions:.

    I suggest:

    1/ A genuine and visble appreciation of Indian civilizational heritage- the Vedic/ ancient Indian spiritual-intellectual accomplishments thru the many liberal Hindu movements, Buddhism and yes, the rich Muslim contribution to Indian cultural heritage. None of this should attempt to hide or be defensive about the ugliness that had been involved- Muslim violence, invasions and conversions; Christian proselytization and yes, the age old, fatalistic and ingrained hierarchical society that Hinduism sadly appears to have permanently set up. A mechanism must exist where dialogs between competing interpretations of history between various groups can take place in civil, respectful manner (and with rule-of-law as the core underlying principle). The important thing is that all this has to be done in a visibly agenda-less way, with favor to none.

    3/ Intolerance and bigotry will not be accepted or encouraged. Absolutely. Whether by Shahabuddin, Modi or Raj Thackeray. Rule of law must be the only guiding principle. This will mean- no banning of Satanic Verses for Muslims, or Da Vinci code for Christians, or vandalizing assorted Shivaji books or paintings for Hindus. This will also mean sensitizing police forces to be muslim/ minority sensitive and not communally profile people in our already severely compromised law enforcement system. (There are other serious issues that exist, eg article 370, Muslim Personal Law/ polygamy etc. which are incompatible with modern civil life and need to be done away with, but these issues will need to be treated with seriousness and care. Only the obtuse or non-serious would call the care needed in executing such objectives minority appeasement and/or use it to inflame sectarian feelings).

    4/ Economy- the obvious thing is that the many decades of Congress socialism/ statism has failed. Miserably. Some form of enlightened fiscal conservatism/ capitalism is the answer, but in our attempt to copy western models, we must not forget that we house the world’s greatest number of hyper-poor. We will neglect this fact at serious peril to our long term economic and national security, and to our relevance to the global order. Everything else will fail if that does not happen. But as the last two decades have shown in other aspects, if Indians can seriously give it the importance the issue needs, we can harness the the creativity and entrepreunership of our millions and make the Chinese miracle pale in comparison.

    5/ An enlightened and muscular (but non-paranoid) security and foreign policy- It will need a leap of imagination to prepare for say, 30 years hence, when India will be a (or maybe the) leading global player. I would even venture that -at some point in the future- we try cultivating Pakistan as an ally, of course without compromising our legitimite claims on Kashmir and the terrorism issue. We can potentially exploit the churn that is visible in the middle class/ press there. As is clearly visible with the China scrap, we will need as many friends as we can muster in our neighborhood. Having been witness to some surprisingly xenophobic and belligerent nationalism among otherwise quiet and intelligent Chinese in the US, I am increasingly feeling that China will contnue to be our long term national security challenge.

    There are of course many other issues that need to be addressed: judicial, electoral and bureaucratic reform, etc. I think at some point, there needs to be a major break in the current space-time continuum of the Indian intellectual-political life, may be an Obama like transformative figure (fast becoming inappropriate analogy : ), to re-orient politics in India. An inspiring, rejuvenated CRL formation would be just perfect!

    Thanks for reading, and regards.

  22. Dear Balaji,

    I appalud the pains you took to publish a position paper on .. on … on what? Classical liberalism? Liberal conservatism? Conservative liberalism? You have taken a wonderfully balanced approach towards the gory caste system on one hand, and the tragic jihadi killings on the other. Along the way, you added an interesting Indic twist, and got paranoid about our enlightened security approach becoming paranoid. You did not forget to express your enlightened horror of Modi, and compassionate appreciation for Jesus Christ. All in all, this is more or less the oped I’d expect to read in Outlook, or on a good day, even in Frontline. Kudos for a job well done.

    But what exactly makes you a liberal conservative? Or whatever is that you claim you are? Feel free to point that out in a powerpoint bulleted format. “Point #1 Conservative Liberals are this. My position is also this.” Etc. But you’d better do it on your own blog, in the light of the fact that this is Acorn’s blog and comment-space here should be judiciously used. I will definitely visit your blog and engage you in a meaningful and fruitful discussion. Thank you.

  23. Oldtimer

    I am disappointed you do not show much enthusiasm for the product of my considerable labor : )

    I regret also that my answers do not fall into the neat categories you seem to think all reality should fit into. The world is full of examples of creative terms that result from the encounter of inflexible ideologies and the real-world: Clinton Democrat, New Labor, Compassionate Conservatism, Enlightened Captalism, Neoconservatism, Neoliberalism and..er..Chinese Communist Party. Actually it is the smart ones that went this route, the passionate ideological ones don’t exist to tell their story. You may already know that, for e.g., it is the Center that is the most vital part of US politics. Both parties (mostly) successfully keep the fringe margins marginal. And most governance takes place from the Center/Center Right, and in fact you can exchange some of the major participants in there, as Arlen Specter, ex-R and Joe Lieberman almost ex-D will attest to.

    Btw, what you call an “interesting Indic twist” makes me a conservative in the Indian context. Although you trivialize it, there is much in there, which hopefully you will discover- at your pace, at your time. Maybe it does not fit the Hindu victimhood narrative you subscribe to, or the one that holds that Muslim “history baiting” is an important tenet of conservative politics in India.
    I also hate to tell you that Old Boy Modi may not turn out the hero you sincerely believe he is. The sooner you and the BJP discover this, the better for India it will be. Although I am no expert, I also happen to strongly believe in free markets with minimal regulation, with the caveat that even in ruthlessly capitalistic USA, one of the most effective and successful schemes is the federally administered Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. India, with its immense poor, will need some version of it.

    I will heed your advice and keep this post short.

    Best!

  24. Dear Balaji,

    >>I am disappointed you do not show much enthusiasm for the product of my considerable labor

    I do! I’m a great admirer of motherhood, and nurture an equal amount of admiration for apple pie. I want to see the downtrodden uplifted, and the uprooted resettled. I love secularism — in the liberal conservative/conservative liberal sense — and I even engage bigots in the hope of making them see light. So it is unfair to claim that I am not paying your product any attention.

    It is precisely because I am paying attention that I’m suggesting that you reformulate your essay into a format that juxtaposes conservative liberal/liberal conservative first principles with your vision of an ideal platform for a liberal conservative/conservative liberal Indian political party . A white paper that wastes bllions of electrons just to get a bilious point edgeways about bete noir Modi is also a waste of intellectual effort, and no ordinary intellect at that. Please invite me to your blog where you’ll host this great vision for lib-con/con-lib party that’s going to be a Cong alternative. Thanks again.

  25. Oldtimer

    I see insinuations of yankee-philia and condescension. That is, besides the persistent ignoring of my id for Balaji’s : )

    I also see that when I respond to your specific arguments, you go off on a different tangent. Anyway, for the record, I do enjoy being in the US, and for the ability to participate in the local and national public life here. I happen not to be an insecure immigrant who becomes a hyper-nationalistic internet crusader for illiberalism back home, while expecting my host communities to be liberal. Also, for the record, I -like you – detest what happened at Nandigram. I lived in Calcutta for several years, and am really not surprised at what happened. Only the scale and media attention this time were greater. When Buddhadev/CPI-M becomes a challenger for the national throne, you will definitely hear more from me about him.

    Anyway, maybe another time we will actually talk about -to paraphrase the Chinese- that which unites us, i.e., strong opinions on Narendra Modi. No, I do not have any personal animosity against the Chhote Sardar- I just dislike some of his past actions and the general direction he is taking the Indian polity. Actually his cult-like status today among some reminds me of the mid-late 90s, when another significant chunk of BJP supporters looked at ABV as an usurper to LKA’s rightful throne, and showed their feelings with much passion. The arguments were similar- you know, electrification of cadre, and such. I have lost touch with most of them, but I would have liked to ask them if they felt the same way today.

    Unfortunately I do not have a blog, and probably will never have one, which is why I have to pile onto others : ) Hope you will excuse me for the waste of bandwidth.

    Have a nice Friday and a great weekend.

  26. Hello fcharmel,

    A few quick points, because I’m rather busy at this point.

    1. Mea culpa. The similarity of arguments and mutual appreciation between you abd balaji led me to confuse you with him.

    2. You haven’t really addressed any of my points. You started off with outlining what you claimed was lib-con’ism, but it doesn’t look like. Hence my suggestion: bulltize. State what you believe are the foundational principles of lib-con’ism. That will be a good starting point for what we may want to see in an Indian lib-con party. For example: you found fault with finding fault with semitic philosophies. Is kid loves to semitic religions a feature of lib-conism? Is conferring victimhood on them the feature? As I uncderstand that is not lib-conism at all, but a repudiation of lib-conism, for you are stifling to censor discussion of root cause of much strife in the world today: the inistence of followers of holy books of Islam and Christianity on ramming those books down the throats of others, and their taking resort to unprovoked violence in doing so because theur holy books condone such violence. Now, now, don’t fly off on that familiar anti-RSS handle: you don’t mean to seriously suggest that people like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens are swayamsevaks in disguise, do you? Read them, sometime. If Harris and Hitchens are lib-cons — they seem to be — I’d think speaking the truth without fear is a key feature of lib-conism. But you are opposed to speaking the truth about semitic philosophies. That’s a feature of the radical left. They tell you, like Islamists, that Jihad is all about love and evengalism is all about choices.

    3. Modi: you see, it seems to me that like our friend balaji you want to say a few nasty things about bad boy Modi and expect that to be the last word by way of proving some point. If somebody counters you you can’t stand it. That is not lib-conism. I doubt that libcons get so riled up about Modi that every time his name is mentioned they get upset.

    4. Finally, my request for your blog is triggered by the fact that this libcon debate is not relevant to the subject matter of the blogpost. Dunno about you, but I get embarrssed about receiving yellow cards from the blog admin.

    Thank you again, take care.

  27. Oldtimer,

    “For example: you found fault with finding fault with semitic philosophies.”
    No I didn’t. I already said this in post #21: “None of this should attempt to hide or be defensive about the ugliness that had been involved- Muslim violence, invasions and conversions; Christian proselytization and…” But I am against the illiberal and agenda-driven determination to find fault lines between communities, especially against a largely backward, semi-literate and vulnerable minority like Muslims in India. And especially by intelligent people you would otherwise expect to appreciate complexity and nuance in a serious debate. If this were a debate happening in Pakistan or Saudi ; ) , you can bet I will be talking loudly against the deprivation of minority rights that routinely happens there.

    Much I could say about the rest in your post, but I won’t now, especially at the risk that you may not get to read this. I am aware of the benefit and need for intellectual argumentation, including about Semitic/ Islamic intolerance, but (and I speak generally here) when the subterranean motivation appears to be to whip up hate against vulnerable minorities- I consider that tasteless and even classless. India, unlike the US/West where Hitchens and Harris operate, is still a rule-of-law and law enforcement black hole, and when such intellectual argumentation morphs into some kind of self evident ‘truthiness’ in the minds of the Indian middle classes, as is evident from a significant segment of the Indian blogosphere, that then I think is time to bring some perspective to the whole debate. (I have previously substantially argued against what I saw as a less than firm rejection of terrorism and apologia for Islamic fundamentalism at chowk.com, a website largely run by some (real and fake : ) liberal Pakistanis, and where people like Sudheendra Kulkarni and Musharaff’s son (Bilal) used to occasionally comment. )

    I apologize to you and the Acorn if my blog/online etiquette is lacking- I have only recently started posting on blogs. The last time I had posted, they were not yet called blogs and I wasn’t aware of any etiquette : )

    Best regards.

  28. A qualification to above: I mean a law enforcement black hole specifically with regard to India’s ability to provide justice to victims of politically inspired sectarian and communal killings, as the 1984 Sikh and 2002 Gujarat massacres show.

  29. Dear Fchiramel,

    Thank you for your reply. The blog admin has been indulgent so far, but I must tell you in advance that being law-abiding and all, I’ll retreat at the first sign of trouble from that source. 🙂

    The intriguing feature that strikes me about your argument is its decidedly leftwing or “liberal” nature; I don’t see anything “lib-con” about it. The argument that “(a) some people allegedly exploit truth to target ‘vulnerable minorities’ and therefore (b) truth must be sidestepped in political discourse” is pretty old hat — we have seen this in countless editorials and opeds of The Hindu, Frontline and assorted left-lib publications. The underlying premise of this argument is that leftwingers are special, superior people; their motives are pure; they are in the business not of spreading hate but sweetness and light; and therefore this sanctimonious bunch can sit in on judgement as to whose “subterranean motives” (seen through some special microscope, no doubt) are suspect.

    That argument cuts both ways. Guess who does the middle class decidedly NOT vote? The left. Ergo, commies have the greatest motive to vilify and even disenfranchise the middle class. I am surprised you are not worried that the left can exploit your very Left-like argument to censor free speech by labeling and silencing people, and (when people won’t listen) murdering them Nandigram-style. You probably have some nice little explanation for why you are not as worried, though worried. I am worried too, but my key point is that lib-con’ism is not about finding leftwing justifications for suppressing truth and free speech; it is to defend them without motive-hunting. Your taste and class will definitely win the approval of Comrade Arundhati Roy and Comrade N Ram, but poor me, I’ll have to raise above my pedestrian preference for such banalities as truth and freedom.

    I strongly recommend Pat Condell’s videos to you, again. Interestingly, rule-of-law or not, the Left in Britain advances the same “arguments” as you have. For opposing Shariat, Condell was accused of being an extreme rightwinger and a supporter of BNP. The Left vitiates civilized debated by vilifying those that it hates; lib-con’ism, as I understand, stands in opposition to such tactics.

    Thanks and take care.

  30. I am of a school of thought that a political party should not change its spots every now and then to be “relevant”. It must announce and adhere to a consistent, unambiguous ideology. Whoever is convinced about that ideology at any point of time should support that party. Just because a stated ideology does not attract the required number of votes to gain a majority, the party should not dilute its original ideology. If it does that, it risks losing its core base as well as continues to be unable to attract people on the other side of the fence. And this is exactly what has happened to the BJP. When people voted for it in the late 90s, it was for something they stood for. But for whatever reasons, maybe coalition pressures, greedy politicians etc., they lost the plot during the 6 years that they ruled. They had such a good opportunity to expose all the corruption charges that they had been accusing Congress of. But they dithered. Maybe an effect of their own conscience or “I’ll scratch your back now, you scratch mine later”. Disappointed, their core support base started to drift.

    If there are core Hindutva supporters who have supported the BJP in the past, today they have nowhere to look up to. No party represent them. The BJP takes up some of the very contentious anti-Hindu issues very feebly and there is absolutely no follow-up. In such a behaviour, one loses confidence in the ability of one’s party to articulate issues to the end. Due to intra-party squabbles, energies of talented BJP men and women are getting wasted. At the time when what is needed is a cohesive united approach to work out a strategy and come out on tops, they are just making it worse and worse each month.

    Your recipe of party election may be an answer, but I’m not really sure if it is a panacea to all its ills.

  31. Dear Fchiramel,

    I don’t see anything “lib-con” about the argument that “(a) some people allegedly exploit truth to target ‘vulnerable minorities’ and therefore (b) truth must be sidestepped in political discourse”. The underlying premise of this argument is that leftwingers — the sort who usually advance it — are special, superior people; their motives are pure; they are in the business not of spreading hate but sweetness and light; and therefore they can unearth “subterranean motives” (seen through some special microscope, no doubt) of the bad guys.

    That argument cuts both ways. The left has the greatest motive to vilify and even disenfranchise the middle class because the latter doesn’t vote for it. I am surprised you are not worried that the left can exploit your argument to censor free speech by labeling and silencing people, Nandigram-style. Or for that matter, terrorists (they’re net savvy you know) might target vulnerable Indian middle class people in hotels, 26/11 style, because they are labeled as “anti-Muslim”, you know. In fact, that terrorists would exact “revenge” for Guj riots became a self-fulfilling prophecy: the 26/11 killers claimed that they were killing for Guj, Ayodhya etc. You probably have some nice little explanation for why you are not worried about the hate-mongering potential of your argument. But my key point is that lib-con’ism is not about finding leftwing justifications for suppressing truth and free speech; it is to defend them without motive-hunting.

    Your taste and class will definitely win the approval of Comrade Arundhati Roy, but poor me, I’ll have to raise above my pedestrian preference for such banalities as truth and freedom.

    Best wishes.

  32. (If the blog administrator thinks this post is too long or otherwise inappropriate to the discussion, I apologize- and please feel free to remove it).

    Dear Oldtimer

    Firstly, you will have to allow for the possibility that I am not a shill for the vast leftwing conspiracy : ) I am a liberal, yes, and some of my specific social policy points may overlap with what passes off as the Indian left. I could even have thought of conditionally supporting them on specific social issues had they not been responsible for, and put up outrageous defenses for, the grotesque and unconscionable Nandigram violence (and the smaller, almost routine cadre executed violence that takes place in Bengal every day), which goes against my core beliefs.

    I have lived in the US for a rather long time now, and as you have parodied, do see it as a role model for Indian politics and policy (and vice versa in some societal/ intellectual aspects). US politics, as I see it, takes place mostly in a Center Right liberal space- evidenced by the unshakeable faith in free markets, muscular foreign & security policy, rule-of-law as core principle and most importantly, a loud but high quality national debate in which all concerned parties have defined what is mainstream, and what is not. Hate speech, bigotry and incitement to violence, or defense thereof, in this consensus, are clearly delineated from genuine differences of opinion, and fall outside the pale of mainstream debate. And my intention in our debate here has only been to identify what those limits of legitimate Indian politics should be, from a Center Right liberal perspective.

    Believe you me, I am all for free speech and intellectual argumentation. I in fact strongly believe it is the stifling of genuine free speech and absence of airing of historical grievances during Congress decades that is partly responsible for some middle class Hindus being such vitriolic anti-Muslims today. On a tangent- I recently had a minor disagreement on Twitter with a prominent Indian blogger, following his implication that the scientific consensus on homosexuality is that it is genetic/inborn (which is the politically correct view in the West). Knowing some of the research involved, I politely disagreed, to which he responded about alleged homophobia of my links and eventually blocked me from his twitterfeed! The intellectual point I was trying to make to him is that if you stick to the (potentially incomplete/ incorrect ) born-that-way theory of homosexuality, if and when the lay press catches on that that is not entirely the case, anti-gay bigots will exploit it and have a field day. As you can see, I do believe – and rather passionately- in the centrality of free speech: the importance of free exchange of ideas, however inconvenient they may be. This has some parallels with what is happening in India today, when after 50-odd years of inaccurate presentation of Islam by INC as a broadminded multicultural-friendly religion, it is being gleefully shown to be not exactly the case, and therefore justification for bigotry.

    And, no, you do not really need a microscope to ferret out the bigotry that exists out there and I am guilty of mis-phrasing in calling it subterranean, as it really is out in the open. When you start seeing things like this http://bit.ly/1p38Pm from a blogger in the movement that calls itself the Indian Center-Right and who posts at a blog-site that self-proclaims to be a liberal Big Tent, it is time to get really worried. In just a few days of trawling that segment of the Indian blogosphere, I have realized that these are not isolated slips but rather the dominant memes in their discourse. So I hope you will understand my reservations in accepting such talk to be all about intellectual fulfillment and inquiry, and not crude intellectualization of a baser and ingrained bigotry, only this time in competent English. The point is not that there should be no intolerance or hate in India- there will always be some everywhere- but rather how this transparent hate meme has gained such currency among educated and world traveled Indians. I do not mean to sound patronizing here but just to illustrate a point: when you are part of the Taliban, it is actually quite difficult to realize you have become the Taliban.

    The funny thing I find in all this is that these individuals seem very impressed by the US system and often live here. They will use details of law-enforcement actions against Islamist terrorists or some intellectual debate regarding Islam (besides tons of fringe literature) to insinuate that their bigotry is shared by US civil society or government! I know for a solid fact that US civil society, the government and its press, is extremely liberal, and will not tolerate in mainstream debate the level of hate that these individuals and blogs represent. In fact, these individuals- at least those of them that live here- will soon realize it in a way no intellectual argumentation could have convinced them- when their own US raised, liberally educated kids will be embarrassed at the chauvinism they peddle in the name of Indian/ Hindu heritage. I already see this happening, and I think it is going to be at long term detriment to Indian interests here.

    I have approached this debate with the assumption that both of us are reasonably intelligent and aware individuals, with no personal or ideological stake in this except with India’s best interests in mind. With those assumptions in place, I am fully agreeable to being converted on specific points if they are valid, and I find no shame in doing so. It is also quite possible that in writing all this, I am giving a segment that is loud but marginal in the Indian discourse more importance than it has, or deserves. In which case, I am happy to be wrong.

    Thanks for reading this long post and best regards.

  33. Dear fchiramel,

    A sense of deja vu. 🙁 If you are of the opinion that making short succinct points does not make you sound convincing, please dispel that notion asap. I do not think that a long-winded essay from well-meaning people is necessarily an example of the adage: “if you cannot dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullcrap”, but surely, the more the number of sentences, the greater the potential to meander off on tangents?

    1. You did not make any new points. You expanded on your old theory that a gag order on discussing the intolerance and thirst for world domination intrinsic to semitic philosophies is in order. You suggested that thought-policing by blog-trotting netizens like you will protect vulnerable minorities from getting massacred by bloggers. I responded that well-meaning-sounding the argument maybe, it would actually engender the kind of bigotry witnessed on 26/11, when terrorists would justify pumping bullets into middle class Indians on the grounds that the latter are targetting vulnerable minorities. I also added that liberal conservatives value truth and freedoms; not paranoiac concerns about the alleged consequences of speaking truth and respecting freedoms. Repeating yourself yet again with another paper does not answer this point.

    2. You are all for lifting the gag order when you certify that the discussion is at the “intellectual” plane. You passionately believe in free speech when un-intellectual baddie bloggers are not around. (Ah, these bloggers. If only somebody made the point that internet would lead to blogger bigotry, a gag order on the invention of internet could have been issued in time.) But there’s nothing very intellectual about getting shot by a terrorist when you’re having a beer in pub. That’s why true-blue lib-cons have made the discussion of what motivates a terrorist (and evangelist) a part of political discourse. No need for alarm. Bloggers leave IP addresses behind.

    3. But I’m glad you cleared up the air about where you stand. You’re a liberal. We got into this debate because I thought you were propounding the principles of lib-con’ism as a practitioner. Stating your “liberal” leanings right upfront would have saved much trouble, but perhaps it’s all explained by the point above I made about the insecurities of someone not comfortable with making sharp succinct points. Unfortunately, I agree with Pat Condell — he again, the former leftist — when he says that there’s nothing “liberal” or “intelligent” about “liberal intelligentsia”. Ironically, he made that comment in a context almost identical to our debate. He took British “liberals” to task for insisting on a gag order similar to the one you advocated. They want it in rule-of-law Britain too, you see. I am not averse to discussing liberalism threadbare, but let us not be under any delusion that we’re discussing lib-consim.

    4. Some random but interesting points that you made: That the US is “liberal”. I lived there too. (Only a couple days ago I was reading a WSJ oped that said that every Republican prez got elected with Christian fundamentalist vote, and only yesterday I was watching Bill Maher make the point that no Prez would ever get elected without affirming to the American people his faith in the Bible). And that tweet. Curious why it got you so agitated. But I think using Acorn’s blog to get your worries off the chest is to overstay the welcome. Do consider taking this part of the debate to the blog you’ll set up.

    Cheers and best wishes.

  34. fchiramel: Thank you for a clear and intelligent (not to mention remarkably patient!) set of comments that lucidly captures why people like me, my wife and our parents stayed at home in the last elections. I do disagree with some parts here and there, but they are too few and far apart to nitpick on. As a liberal nationalist and small ‘c’ conservative with decidedly middle-class roots, I should have remained part of BJP’s natural constituency all these years. But this part

    “When you start seeing things like this http://bit.ly/1p38Pm from a blogger in the movement that calls itself the Indian Center-Right and who posts at a blog-site that self-proclaims to be a liberal Big Tent, it is time to get really worried. In just a few days of trawling that segment of the Indian blogosphere, I have realized that these are not isolated slips but rather the dominant memes in their discourse. So I hope you will understand my reservations in accepting such talk to be all about intellectual fulfillment and inquiry, and not crude intellectualization of a baser and ingrained bigotry, only this time in competent English”.

    has evolved into a complete deal breaker for the likes of me. It was not always thus, especially in the days of an archetypal liberal nationalist called ABV. But that is past, unfortunately. One can only hope that a mature, less bigoted and explicitly liberal nationalist alternative emerges from the ashes of the failed BJP.

    Oldtimer: I find your posts high on insinuation, sarcasm and even name -calling (bullcrap! gag order!) but relatively lower on actual points (no offence, just calling a spade that). I am sure you have clearly thought out reasons for your perspective, but in these particular comments, they seem an cyclic rehash of a crude narrative of victimhood and the legitimacy of retribution. Maybe if you were to take some time and write after more thought, those of us in the voting public could perhaps try to understand exactly what is not being said. And btw puzzlingly, the comments are also rather contradictory.

    e.g. you speak of ‘thought-policing’ by an individual net crawler like fchiramel. Rather OTT, unless of course, you have stumbled on some software that I am unaware of. You then go on to call his concerns ‘paranoiac’! Pot? Kettle?

    As for calling others ‘liberal’ as if it is an epithet, you need to read up about:

    1) Liberal nationalism and conservatism;

    2) Your own enthusiasm to take ownership of that particular label in the comments sections of this post

    http://retributions.nationalinterest.in/guest-post-a-10-point-agenda-for-bjp/

    Pot? Kettle? Or merely someone tying themselves up in knots when losing an argument?

    Best wishes

  35. Dear Oldtimer

    OK, let me respond, for one last time, point by your point:

    1/ Yes I did make new points and expanded on my older ones. No, I never recommended thought policing or gag orders on hate or any speech. Islamic terrorism/bigotry, Hindu bigotry, leftwing terrorism are all not kosher- is that so hard to get? Maybe it is just that I am sounding too unfashionably close to the 80s GoI propaganda : ( Is Hindu chauvinism the best way to defeat Islamic terrorism? At the implementation level, there will be much complexity to handle- but at least at the intellectual level, can we not agree on this minimum? No form of extremism is justifiable, and I never justified any. I was here on 9/11, and have a good idea what terrorism feels like up close. And how repugnant discussions of root causes of terrorism are, when you have actually experienced it.

    2/ To repeat, again, I never recommended a gag order on hate speech or any speech. Like you, I too value the truth and all freedoms. I was just saying that on intellectual platforms aimed at the national interest such as this, hate-inspired agenda should be IDENTIFIED for what it is- unconstructive channeling of ancient bigotries -detrimental to national interest. I would not take as much objection at these bloggers if they were just saying that all Muslims are disgusting and should be roasted; but only because they claim it to be in the national interest ; ) And even then it is only (strong) intellectual disagreement, not prescription for free speech restrictions. There is a difference. Hope you will not again conflate what I am actually saying with what you think or hope I am saying : )

    3/ I have said I am a liberal conservative many times, which, yes, incorporates liberal elements. And which is what every reasonable and intelligent conservative that exists today is. To repeat, they are not mutually exclusive. Liberal has many meanings depending on context, and in that case I have clearly used it as an antonym to illiberal. Please don’t selectively pick and choose. You seem to dislike any use of the term liberal, and maybe confuse it with left-liberal, or even left-illiberal. Incidentally, the bloggers I refer to also all use the term liberal! : ) When you implied otherwise, I drew my distinction from the left brand of politics. I have also told you before why my instincts run liberal conservative. To put it sharply and succinctly, as you demand: Belief in a/ free markets and growing-the-pie b/ a vigilant, robust security & foreign policy c/ a conviction that Indian culture, heritage and spirituality are unique and have a global relevance (d/ traditional Indian societal/ family values, but am not getting into that right now). Maybe even with all this, I have left out the big one for you?
    Btw, you do agree that we are talking about the center right/lib-con here, and not the ultra-right? The Center is always less emotionally appealing than the fringes, I realize that, but Center Right/ lib-con remains the topic of discussion here.

    4/ Hindu chauvinists may always vote for BJP, that is not a good enough reason for BJP to be Hindu chauvinist- so, wrong argument. Bill Maher is a smart guy, and yes, I love him for taking on bigoted bible thumpers. His that particular statement happens to be hyperbolic (remember he is a satirist) and strictly untrue, but a good example of his vigilant libertarianism. And if you do not see anything objectionable in that tweet from a blogger who regularly holds forth at a supposedly Center Right ‘liberal big tent’, I regret to say the culture gap between us is vaster than I thought. It is perfectly ok for them to have those discussions- there is much of that on the internet- only, I would not think them to be in the national interest or center right or mainstream in any way.
    And if I am overstaying my welcome, I expect to hear it from the blog administrator.

    Finally, I apologize if I have come across as self-righteous in any way. I am not here to score intellectual brownie points- my intention has only been to put out a point-of-view that is under-represented in the Indian CRL discourse, and which, rightly or wrongly, I strongly feel to be in the Indian national interest. I –like you- am spending valuable time doing this, uncompensated ; )

    Thank you for indulging me, and I end it here : )

    With best regards

    Jayant,

    Thanks for the understanding. It was getting a bit lonely in here : )

    I understand the frustration, and I hope with you too. Amazingly, Vajpayee’s genius is all the more obvious only now, now that he is no longer in it.
    And just imagine if all these good folks, with all their obvious enthusiasm and energy, had identified a different target- corruption and sloth in India. How great would that have been!
    I think we need a new vocabulary in India to confront this and similar problems- old notions of secular/ pseudo-secular/communal have all become meaningless and polarizing.
    And if nothing else, more of the same is not good for our kids. They are growing in a very different world, and if they get hate from us- intellectual, partly-justified, or otherwise- they will be stunted forever and it will hurt them in their lives.

    Regds

  36. Hello fchiramel,

    Thank you for your comments. Comrade Jayant seems all set to take up the mantle as you gracefully retire, so please do not forget to drop in on here every once in a while. His entry surely is one of the most dramatic ones in recent times anywhere on any blog.

    1. We are not discussing whether extremism is good or bad. To help you with your memory, the point of contention is: is a discussion of the theological and semitic-‘philosophical’ roots of jihad and evangelism a legtimate part of lib-con political discourse? You say, “how can it be! hate speech! massacre of vulnerable minorities by bloggers!” etc etc, but I say, “it is, whether you like it or not, look at lib-cons like Condell and Hitchens!”. Unforunately I can’t assist with letting you focus on this point any longer because you made your concluding remarks, but surely, Comrade Jayant will shortly elaborate more on this point because he is eager to win the debate.

    2. What should be or should not be discussed on this platform will be decided by the blog admin. You shouldn’t unnecessarily get your blood pressure up on the massacare-of-minorities-by-bloggers count. I don’t think this blog author suggested that Jains should be roasted or deep-fried, but if he should say it, let me assure that it’d take more than a leftwing clown to dismiss it as the rant of a fanatic because the said author is a sharp thinker and he generally makes solid points. (And it’s time to let Jayant’s voice be heard on this topic as well. The debate deserves to be won asap.)

    3. Yes, I dislike the term “liberal”. Its dictionary meaning is not as relevant as what it actually stands for in the world today. Have you ever come across a group of wackos who call themselves progressives? To cut a long story short, they aren’t.

    4. No party should be chauvinist of any sort, and if a party is accused of being chauvinst by other parties, that is not good enough reason to encourage jihadis to kill middleclass Indians. (I wait with bated breath for Jayant’s take on this point because intution tells me that’s gonna be the debate-clincher.)

    You are a plasure to debate with, not sanctimonious at all like liberals. Your closing remarks were sharp and succinct, though largely irrelevant to the original topic of lib-conism. The only unexplained puzzle for me is your horror of the tweet that you mentioned with great trepidation. Atanu is another prolific blogger and a fine thinker; the only disgusting thing about him is that he is too lazy to write a book. Best wishes and take care.

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