Gimme hope, Raisina, gimme hope

Too many politicians, not one leader

Over at the Cape of Good Hope, Trailblazer takes the BJP to task for taking a position that is as self-defeating as it is brazen.

India’s political class has shown a sheer lack of courage to embrace the secular ideals of the country that, to an extent, the people have adopted already. The BJP has shown its communal face in all respects with an almost compulsive patronage for the Malegaon blast accused in these testing times. [TCGH]

Whether Rajnath Singh is a loose cannon or an authentic representative of one segment of the party, the fact remains that the BJP has covered itself with shame over the case of the radical right-wing Hindutva extremists. As Pratap Bhanu Mehta writes, every political formation from separatists, left wing revolutionaries, right wing extremists and political parties of all colours are attacking the institution of the Indian state:

After the BJP is done with what the state is supposedly doing to Hindus, and after the UPA is done with what it is doing to Muslims, does the Indian state have any shred of credibility left? [IE]

Dr Mehta believes that drastic measures are required to prevent falling off the edge, and recommends contemplation.

The UPA government created untold damage to the national pysche (and to the fisc) by rolling back the narrative of hope—by abandoning economic liberalisation and replacing it with communal socialism. The BJP’s national leadership, on the other hand, has failed to impress. It could perhaps defend its position on the India-US nuclear deal as arising from a genuine, but different interpretation of India’s national interests. Such a defence is unavailable to it in the case of its defence of suspected ultra-right Hindu terrorists on the sole basis of their religion. Would the BJP next defend suspected Hindu criminals merely on the grounds that they are Hindu? Why, some criminals might even be sincerely patriotic and deeply nationalistic, but that doesn’t mitigate their culpability. Far too many Hindu suspects get beaten up in police stations on any given day. No concern for them?

Despondency, therefore is warranted. Turning the national mood from despondency back to hopefulness is a matter of political astuteness that is sorely lacking in Indian politics, and most certainly in New Delhi. There are political rewards for parties and leaders that espouse reconciliation instead of recrimination, renewal instead of redistribution, and responsibility instead of rejection. The BJP’s current leadership doesn’t get it.

17 thoughts on “Gimme hope, Raisina, gimme hope”

  1. Good commentary.

    The national parties are expected to have a national perspective and the trend wherein they seem to be losing space to parochial, regionalist or casteist parties is worrisome indeed.

    As for the recent unmasking of yindoo terrorists, the least the BJP could have done was to hold its peace until the investigations are completed or the judicial promouncement on the matter happens. The least the UPA and MH govts could have done was to have handled the case more sensitively rather than running to a sensation-seeking media on a daily basis.

    In any case, the MH ATS case is so full of gaping holes that one wonders whether the objective right from the start of the MH govt was to discredit the investigation agencies, the law enforcement agencies and the army as impartial institutions of the state.

    Truly a sad state of affairs.

  2. “Such a defence is unavailable to it in the case of its defence of suspected ultra-right Hindu terrorists on the sole basis of their religion. … Far too many Hindu suspects get beaten up in police stations on any given day. No concern for them?”

    Isn’t that contradictory!

    As for the sermons of BJP communalism, are people like Mehta, apparently a prominent person, so stupid? Which hole do these people live in? If this is not about beating up BJP, I don’t know is! Follow how the so called investigation of Maha’s ATS unfolded. First it apparently was ultra-nationalists that set the bombs using Army RDX (which in itself is bogus because Army doesn’t use RDX), then they were linked to Bajrang Dal, then they were linked to VHP, then, within days, to BJP itself, even as BJP itself watching the investigation unfold without jumping to conclusion. What do you think Congress I spokespersons, such as Verrappa Moily, were doing implicating BJP in terrorists attacks.

    To blame BJP for what’s going on is mind boggling. What state? Which Hindus? The same secular state, created by chacha Nehru, that wants to destroy Ramasethu to enable a few contractors make money despite the concerns of Hindus?

    The sanctimony of the secularists, especially the politically novice, when it comes to BJP is laughable, if it’s not so entirely predictable.

  3. Sorry, Nitin, it’s not you…I am just mad at the utter predictability of the political games being played and the so called analysts who think they are better….

  4. Chandra,

    I’m fine with the criticism, especially from long-time readers 🙂

    I don’t carry a brief for the left-liberal media or the Congress party. They are behaving as they always have. Far too many people see through their game and are tired of that nonsense.

    But the BJP’s disappointing stance undermines its claim that it stands for something better.

    But let’s face it—the BJP’s stand on terrorism is disgraceful and deeply troubling. Reasonable people are not calling for anyone to be held guilty based on charges by investigating agencies. But why is the BJP taking out rallies and backing their legal defence?

    And Mr Advani shocked us by citing an affidavit filed by the accused to call for replacing the investigators and instituting a judicial enquiry. Seriously? Do claims made by accused, through affidavits and their defence lawyers, justify this? If we extend this principle to everyone accused of committing crimes, then not a single criminal will ever be convicted. Any suspect can take a 100 Rs stamp paper, write that he is guilty, was tortured and subjected to psychological abuse; and his defence lawyer can echo it. Does this justify transferring the policemen?

    No, it doesn’t help to point at Congress leaders, sanctimonious secularists, political novices and even your friendly blogger to excuse the BJP for its mistakes. And those who are BJP defenders ought to ask themselves whether they want the BJP to be a better party, and if so, can this happen if they blindly defend everything that the party does.

  5. Thanks Nitin.

    It really is upto those who consider themselves friends of the BJP to hold that party to these higher standards ( relatively, these should actually be basic standards). I’ve been after the ‘other side’ to do the same thing on their blogs. Unfortunately very few people do- on either side. Its mostly reactive and justifications based on what the other guys are doing.


  6. Nitin,

    In the current political climate and the sensationalist role being played by the mainstream media, it is well nigh impossible for BJP to just keep quiet.

    Day in and day out, we see assorted leaders from UPA and left linking the BJP functionaries to the accused.The bungling of the ATS is obvious to even casual observers.

    As a major political party, the BJP is duty-bound to respond.And initially they did say that terrorism of any hue needs to be punished and the law must take its course.But as days turned to weeks, two things have clearly emerged:

    1.There is a political stink to the way the ATS investigation is being conducted and selective leaks are being made by ‘sources’ to the MSM.
    2.BJP’s continuing silence will see fringe elements in the extreme right take centre stage in support of the accused. And BJP’s committed voters and cadre seem to be convinced that the irregularities in the investigation need to be protested.

    I see LKA’s statement as a response to this quandary the party finds itself in.He or Rajnath have not said anywhere that the Sadhvi and others should go scot free, if they have indeed committed those crimes.They found fault with the ATS’s unprofessional conduct and the obvious political motives.

    LKA’s statement should have been worded better because it gives the impression that he is reacting based on the affidavit.

    As for Bhanu Mehta’s question: Does the Indian State has any credibility left?

    What is the Indian State?Is it just the Govt and its agencies? Is it also the Parliament and the Judiciary?And the Army?

    I don’t think it is fair to expect the BJP to be the sole protector of the credibility of this nation’s institutions.If they stand by this ideal completely, they would play right into the hands of their opponents.At least, that is what the BJP seems to fear.It is not a crime to stick to real politic.

    IMHO, the higher ideal is that of the nation’s security, culture and democratic values, than that of the credibility of already tainted institutions.BJP’s stance could be right or wrong, but they have the right and duty to take a stance.Nothing wrong in that.It is better than keeping quiet and letting things drift into an abyss.

  7. Kumar,

    The argument is not the BJP should remain silent. Rather, that it should say the right things.

    Here’s what they could have said. “Let the investigations be completed without any political interference. Let the judicial process takes its course. If found guilty, let the accused face the due punishment. And let the UPA government show the same enthusiasm and energy in the pursuit of all cases of terrorism, whoever the suspects might be.”

    It’s not merely about taking the moral high ground. I would think that the BJP’s political opponents and left-liberal critics would have been silenced by that. And why, even Muslim citizens would see clearly that the BJP’s stand on terrorism is not selective. The Congress would have no fig leaf left in pussyfooting around jihadi terrorism.

    The argument about protecting national security and democratic values is specious: both require a credible state. And this is not a western notion; it’s there in the Arthashastra.

  8. Nitin,

    Yes, I agree that LKA’s statement could have been better framed, instead of the demands he has made.

    I am just curious – isn’t the Arthashastra a treatise on statecraft? Does it espouse democratic values the way we understand them today? I know you have studied the book deeply, and hence the question.

    What Pratap Bhanu Mehta says and you seem to agree with, is that the Indian State lacks credibility because every political formation and interest group accuse it of bias of some form or the other.

    How did we get here?

    The political class is a component of the State.The culture of vote bank politics, and the encouragement it receives because of certain provisions within the Indian Constitution have played a major role. So, the answer could be a non-partisan review of the Constitution.But then, as you rightly said, we have too many politicians and no leaders.

    The BJP leadership won’t get it because fundamentally, they seem to be cut from the same cloth as the Congress.

    I think there will be a steep fall from the precipice that Bhanu Mehta suggests we are in.And the reconciliation and reconstruction of the State’s credibility will begin only then.Sad, but this is the way we seem to be heading.

  9. Kumar,

    The Arthashastra includes political philosophy as well as rather detailed practical prescriptions. Now I can’t claim to have studied it in depth, but what I’ve studied suggests that the Kautilyan view of statecraft follows from the tradition of the Mahabharata (Santi Parva): that the king (who personified the state) came about to prevent matsya-nyaya (or might is right) and restore dharma. He didn’t envisage democratic values per se, but rather insisted that the king is to rule for the happiness of his subjects, while upholding dharma. See these two posts.

    How did we get here? Well, there’s no single story. But how do we get out of here? Well, by respecting own laws, our own constitution and our own institutions.

  10. @Chandra
    I am mad at the state of politics in the country today too, hence my piece. I am utterly frustrated at the state of affairs and truly question the BJP’s secular credentials after statements made by the top brass of the national party.

    It’s all about hopelessness. Yesterday, LK Advani said he is secular. Today, his party says they will defend the interests of the accused no matter what with a stubborn refusal to believe that a Hindu can be convicted and they are stunned at how a Sadhvi (a supposed flagbearer of the Hindu faith) could be arrested in the case. What do I believe?

  11. Nitin,

    Here’s what they could have said. “Let the investigations be completed without any political interference. Let the judicial process takes its course. If found guilty, let the accused face the due punishment. And let the UPA government show the same enthusiasm and energy in the pursuit of all cases of terrorism, whoever the suspects might be.”

    Very well put.

    LKA could have gone further and said that the entire investigation-prosecution-judiciary apparatus will need to be shielded from political interference.

    For example, the ATS lawyer admits in court that he was wrong in claiming that Purohit supplied Army RDX for the Samjhauta blasts and in that same court session the court agrees to extend Purohit’s remand with the ATS instead of throwing the case out altogether?

    The MH ATS has successfully discredited *all* Indian investigative agencies, their past cases including their successes and cast a cloud on most of their future endeavors. Perhaps this was the motive all along amongst the political bigwigs backseat driving this investigation – Get GoI to buckle under a propaganda campaign and release *all* terrorists convicted under terror laws. Now, howz that for a scary thought?

  12. “There are political rewards for parties and leaders that espouse reconciliation instead of recrimination, renewal instead of redistribution, and responsibility instead of rejection.”

    bunkum. I dont see the point in letting the rhetoric get ahead of ourselves. explain from where laloo and karunanidhi continue to get their political rewards from.

    there are gaping holes in the maharashtra ATS’ planted leaks that a blind, drunk lemur can fly a A380 through. That is surely not mere incompetence. There are players behind them scripting every move. Figure out what they intend to do. Niceties and sermons and coining impressive slogans can wait.

  13. I agree with Nitin. If I were the BJP, I would wait a little longer before either claiming that:

    (a) There can be no Hindu terrorists; and therefore
    (b) Those Hindus arrested for Malegaon blasts could not have been terrorists.

    Instead, the BJP can bring up the issue of why the Madhya Pradesh government did not bother to investigate Sunil Joshi further. This, This, when way back in 2002, Digvijay Singh’s claimed that he had evidence of ‘Hindu terrorists’.

    And most importantly, given the left-liberal bias of mainstream media, consider the setting up an effective conduit (like a respected and widely read newspaper/news channel) to present its views to the public. It will surely pay off in the long run.

  14. NEW DELHI: Late on Monday, a national television channel broke the latest in the series of prime-time exclusives that have characterised the unfolding of the investigation into September bombing in Malegaon.

    Five Army officers, the television station announced, were being investigated for their connections with the Hindutva terror group Abhinav Bharat. Later, it claimed that a team of the Maharashtra Police’s Anti-Terrorism Squad was in New Delhi to discuss the issue with top military officials and National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan.

    But as Tuesday wore on, Ministry of Defence officials insisted they had received no list of officials wanted for investigation by the ATS, while it turned out the NSA was not scheduled to hold meetings with Maharashtra Police officials. Indeed, two ATS officials separately told The Hindu their only representative in New Delhi was Deputy Inspector-General Parambir Singh and he was there to attend a wedding.

    And this on same day –

    The internal security of the country is today threatened by two ‘A’s–Advani and Abhinav Bharat,” senior party leader M Veerappa Moily, told reporters alleging that the outsourcing of terror has become the “new cult with some of the outfits of BJP”.

    I suppose BJP will not get an apology from Sri Mehta or fellow bloggers who don’t seem to see how the corrupt Congress I and its media buddies play their game (and they are not new at this type of game)..

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