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Published in the 1-15 July 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Who needs reprieve: Modi or Vajpayee?
By I. K. Shukla

Modi's ouster may or may not be in the cards. At least not yet. But the timing is significant. Pontification from Prini (Manali) where Vajpayee has his abode of Meanderings, has played havoc, though the flurry of damage-control has signally added to the confusion instead of clearing the air.

VHP has come out acerbically in defence of Modi. So has RSS, if less viciously, but quite firmly. Both agree that the debacle of BJP can be laid not at the door of Modi, but “appeasement” of Muslims and “abandonment” of Hindutva. Others, however, think contra: It was abandonment of Muslims, and appeasement of Hindutva, that cost the BJP dearly.

But, admiitting this much would render VHP-RSS-Bajrang Dal jobless, penniless, powerless. And if joblessness in the country has to be reduced, so posit Hindutva honchos, they better begin with themselves. They should be in the job of big time thievery and amassing wealth. Nothing should come in the way.

Hence, Mumbai. The choice of the venue of saffro jamboree is meaningful. Big business has to be courted and assured, it has to be cajoled to contribute to Dharma. All fascism has had fat cats funding it. The tribal belt has received attention from VHP just in time. Its work would expand there.

Vajpayee may be marginalized in Mumbai. Or, his stay will henceforth depend on the sufferance of Moditva, duly, if not too ceremoniously, rehabilitated and hoisted aloft.

In defeat and desperation, BJP and its other synonyms, are least likely to abandon or abate their addiction for lethal and feral Moditva.

If Advani has to come up, Modi will remain a constitutive element of the Hindutva theology. It works both ways. Today Advani, tomorrow Modi, can be at the helm. Vajpayee's ill health will handicap him in this rat race. But nobody should yet discount his craftiness. He, with a hyper-active forked tongue, now says, Modi’s ouster as CM is a thing of the past. Parse it as you will, you can never get at its real meaning.

He left a leeway open for himself. Gujarat riots were not that bad. Its exploitation by the Congress was bad. So said the fogy. Films of the carnage and genocide (which Hindutva did its damnedest worst to bar and ban) were exhibited abroad, says the drone. So the blame does not attach to Modi, nor BJP, nor Hindutva. In Vajpayee's and Hindutva's logic, it attaches to Congress and other secular parties, which queered the pitch for BJP. I wonder: were Congress, and secularists that influential?

Vajpayee may yet have some surprises up his sleeve. He said he would not give UPA more than six months. Too, he asserted, he would not sit in Opposition for 5 years. Other luminaries of Hindu Taliban say, two years is all they would allow UPA. Something seems cooking covertly. Or, conspiratorially?

It is this disarray that impels the BJP to adopt phony patriotism (versus Sonia) or pietistic pomposity (tainted Ministers in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet).

I like the Congress to accede to the demand of the BJP by removing all the tainted MPs from the two houses of Parliament immediately.
Then we can watch the BJP wailing like beasts, in their own natural grunts and groans. 
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