This article is translated to English by Ashish Saradka.
If you are an ardent music fan you are not foreign to the term “Jugalbandhi” a classic combination of two great musicians or two musical instruments. The political arena witnesses these Jugalbandhis at times when one political spearhead meets another media tycoon. October 3rd witnessed one such combination when NDTV’s Nidhi Razdhan interviewed the ‘famous’ economist, former central minister Arun Shourie. The combination of this duo is great because of a reason. The shared common hatred for Modi. Nidhi of all never misses out on an opportunity to point and mount on Narendra Modi, and Arun Shourie off late has found it amusing to allege and pin Modi government in its every move. So there should be no doubts in the point that the discussion was going to be rhetorical. Shourie took this opportunity to flood out his pent-up anger and frustration on Modi and the economic policies of the government. Similar to all the “World famous Common people- turned -economists overnight post 2014” he went on to lash a series of allegations and made oppressive remarks on various economic stands taken by the Government. Digging deep to figure out and find what, “an emotionally charged overnight economist,” said about Modi or his policies is of no use since it doesn’t fetch any information vital enough to discuss. However, this article can be used to list out the various opinions made by Shourie over the years.
Arun Shourie was a decorated minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government. If we look back on his journey to the iron throne we can see strong opinions against intellectuals and liberals. Books like ‘eminent historians’ and ‘Worshipping false Gods’ had made him a villain overnight in the cadre of liberals and intellectuals. These are the works which opened the gates in the houses of right-wing organizations for Shourie. This was again the most important reason for his elevation to the level of a cabinet-level minister in the Vajpayee government. One of the most important times of this government was the Godhra massacre of 2002, where the Karasevaks travelling in the train were burnt alive and the killings of Muslims which followed later as an act of revenge. Gujarat was then under the administration of Chief Minister Narendra Modi. According to Shourie,
“Vajpayeeji was shattered. He was in tears with hands over his head. He was sad that such a shameful sequence of incidents had happened in his regime. Muslims in India felt insecure for the first time after 1940. That had live under the constant fear of being killed at any time by anyone. There was a huge communal tension all around. My heart had clogged looking at the pitiful deaths of Muslims. Along with L.K.Advaniji I went to Gujarat to meet the chief minister Modi.”
In his jargon, he carefully tries to place himself third in line in the BJP cadre after Atalji and LK Advani. He goes on to say that it was he who single-handedly handled the post-Godhra situation and made sure that the NDA government in the centre was not held responsible for this. All these decorated stories of the past were revealed by him 2 years back.
Going back a few years in the past, in 2012 when Shourie was one of the star campaigners for Narendra Modi he was questioned by a journalist. The journo had accused Shourie of campaigning for a Mass murderer responsible for Godhra. Shourie hadn’t budged, he didn’t dodge the question. He had defended Modi and said, “What happened in Gujarat was a response to stimuli, it was a reaction to the actions previously carried out.” He had gone on to point the Sikh killings which followed after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in Delhi. In another interview, Arun had also mentioned,
“When we see people die in front of us it is normal for us to feel sad. I feel sad when something goes wrong with my son. But I don’t feel the same when thousands of people die in a faraway country due to an earthquake or flood. People die! And we can’t sit lamenting and crying over everyone who dies”.
From giving such politically questionable clarifications to being one of the closest associates of the Modi campaign, Shourie had no doubts in Modi becoming the prime minister of India in 2014. Shourie had a dream of becoming the Finance minister in the Modi government. Some of the popular verses from his addresses back then are listed here.
1. BJP will become managerially more efficient. It will work like a machine. In fact, Modi will modernise the ideology of BJP with his government and style of governance.
2. Wherever I go, the view that I get from the people is Narendra Modi Ko Lao
3. Modi is indefatigable and goes into details. He will look for best ideas, wherever they come from.
In a span of no time, the dreams of “Modi Sarkar” was a reality. The BJP led NDA was in power. But even after two cabinet reshuffles Shourie was not to be seen as a minister in the BJP government. He was denied Rajyasabha seat by the party. The result was seen immediately. The person who once closely associated himself with Modi, and the same person who had called Modi a Modern leader had called Modi “A hypocrite who doesn’t listen to anyone” in a matter of days. He went on to say that “The direction the government is taking under his supervision is not good for India.” In one of his statements, he accused Modi saying,“Modi treats people like paper napkins. Use them and throw away, Modi is deliberately dividing India through the policy of divide and rule.” Shourie had started being rhetorical in every other TV interview he was called for. He went on to say, “We were desperate in 2014 to get rid of Manmohan Singhji. We wanted to get his government off power desperately” Shourie then said “Doctor ji ko log yaad karne lag gaye hai” (Meaning People have started remembering/missing Manmohan Singhji already.)
In his writing after 2008 Mumbai terror attack, Shourie had quoted KPS Gill stating, we can handle terror not by out-running him, indeed by over-running him. Not an eye for an eye. For an eye, both eyes. Not a tooth for a tooth. For a tooth, the whole jaw. Human rights? Yes, we will respect the human rights of the terrorists and their sponsors and their local supporters to the extent that they respect the human rights of our people. The same Arun Shourie in 2015 said, “The Modi government treats Pakistan as our enemy if we can’t trust our neighbors how can we plan to peacefully coexist. The irony with Shourie is that when India sent home minister Rajnath Singh to the SAARC summit in Pakistan, Shourie had laughed at the government stating, “Even Bangladesh didn’t send its ministers. India sending its home minister is funny.” Shourie in 2014 criticized Modi’s concept of Vikas saying, there were no popular schemes by the government. In 2015 the same Shourie said, Government is full of Populist schemes and policies, where is Vikas! Arun Shourie was interviewed by Ashish Nandi after the Bihar elections. Nandi said that he felt Modi is “A textbook Fascist.” Shourie didn’t need a bigger invitation to jump in. He called Modi much more than a fascist. He went on ranting to say that Modi falls in the category of something called the dark triad which includes personality traits of Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. That’s the characterization Shourie gave of Modi.
In the same interview, Nandi went on to ask Shourie if he saw a difference between the emergency in 1975 and the Modi administration. Shourie’s answer didn’t let Ashish down. He said, “The one big difference is that at that time, Mrs. Gandhi still used the law. Now it is not the law. These people are acting outside the law. This is true fascism because you say ‘what is the law? I am the law.’ Worse things are being done inside the government to choke the existing law. 1975 was a decentralized Emergency. What we are going towards is a pyramidal decentralized, mafia state, where local goons will belabour anyone they think is doing something wrong.”
If you have seen the way a dog infected by rabies behaves when it sees water you will be surprised. We know that the water is harmless, but the dog loses its control when it sees water. Similar is the case of Shourie and the Intellectuals who accompany him these days. What aggravates them when they hear the name of Modi is a big question. Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and some other senior leaders wanted to get one or the other decorated ministry in the Modi government. And when that didn’t happen they felt offended and decided to react. That is the open and the most obvious secret. Arun Shourie has taken all opportunities to blame Modi in every way possible. Here are some of his words.
1. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is narcissistic and is running a one-man presidential government, the direction of which was dangerous for India
2. By 2019 the nation will lose the “Freedom to express.” The government is stuffing the mouth of the media. The rights of the citizens are being methodically taken away from the people.
3. Demonetization is the largest money-laundering scheme ever, conceived and implemented entirely by the government. According to Shourie, it is a suicidal mission leading the nation towards bankruptcy.
4. According to him, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) of Narendra Modi is the weakest ever since the Independence.
5. Shourie accuses Modi of Confrontation and polarization. According to him, Mr. Modi was deliberately dividing India through a policy of “divide and rule.”
6. According to Shourie, there is a clear line of logic” that linked Ghar- wapsi, love-jihad, beef ban, the return of awards, the campaign against antinationalism, the focus on ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ and student protests and the Modi Government creates and controls it.
And isn’t it surprising and sad that these remarks are made by a man who was an esteemed right-wing intellectual once! Do you even now think that the comparison of the rabid Dog is being harsh on him?
In the recent times, the level of frustration, sadness, anger and desertedness seems to have taken its toll on Arun Shourie. Accusing and blaming Modi is seemingly the only ‘Single point agenda’ he has right now. In an interview, a journalist pointed out and asked about the “Corruption free governance of the Modi Regime.” Shourie replied stating, “The corruption in the centre has gone down. But the Modi Government has failed to curb corruption in the various state governments.” In the very next week, he deemed demonetization as the “Biggest scam of the decade.”
Shourie broke down on the government when the CBI raided the house of Prannoy Roy. He said the government had instrumented a scheme to kill democracy. Surprisingly, neither Shourie nor any other intellectual cared about the basic fact that the raid was on Roy’s private properties following tax-related cases dating back to previous regimes. The raid was not on NDTV. The CBI did not enter NDTV’s offices nor harass its journalists. Shourie went on to say that, “If you don’t like a channel, don’t watch it. If you don’t like the ideas opined in a newspaper don’t read it. But don’t think of attacking a TV channel and shutting it down.” But when a question was fired at him stating Arnab Goswami backs the CBI attack on Prannoy Roy, Shourie lost his cool and went on to say, “ Don’t tell his words to me. Arnab’s show has to be shut. His channel has to be banned”!!
If we keep on listing the double standards, the selective outrage of Shourie in the recent times we can easily see that his track record is not that clean and great. He has swayed his opinions at times towards the right, at times towards the left and at times in no direction whatsoever. But the digital age of media and press has its perks. We can easily see and know what a person has said in years and develop an idea about the state of mind of the person. And going by that rule of thumb, it is a very simple thing to connect the dots and question the mental wellbeing on Arun Shourie. So the next time you see him sharing a seat with Nidhi Razdhan, and lamenting on the plight and state of the nation, its economy, democracy and freedom of the press, sit back and relax. The nation is going in the right direction