Okay, I had been promising to write this post since…well…forever. And I never got along to writing it. I finally realized that today is as good a day as any. Well, so today’s post is really a question to all my RW friends out there and I am really looking forward to your comments today.
It is no secret that Arun Jaitley is not a very popular man among core right wing supporters. At least the online right wing space is filled with numerous angry outpourings against him, accusing him of undermining Modi, colluding with Lutyens mafia, etc. etc.
To be honest, I have always found these charges a little puzzling. As I said, I am not trying to tell you folks anything today, I want to know what you folks think. Let me first lay out how I feel about Arun Jaitley. We are not talking about his performance as Finance Minister here, we are only talking about the charges of him undermining the BJP.
I have to admit I haven’t seen any evidence. But then, what direct evidence could be there? Am I hoping for a written admission from Arun Jaitley saying that he is undermining the BJP, Modi and the Hindu right in general? Of course not. I am asking for any evidence, even circumstantial evidence.
Here’s what we know about Arun Jaitley. There can be no doubt that he “looks” and “feels” different from the average core Hindu right winger. He definitely has a lot of friends in Lutyens Delhi. But can we really accuse Jaitley of being anti-BJP purely because he has a lot of friends on the other side of the fence. For what its worth, I actually know a very large majority of people who can only be described as vigorously anti-Hindu. At what stage does “being on good terms with” translate into “actively colluding with?”
The other thing that we know about Arun Jaitley is that he enjoys the total confidence of Narendra Modi. And that’s not a friendship that was forged due to circumstances in 2014. In fact, back when Modi was fighting the election of his life in 2002, it was Arun Jaitley who was Modi’s main strategist for winning Gujarat. If Modi had lost Gujarat in 2002, India’s political history (and presumably, political future) would be a lot different.
I have to say it is hard to imagine that a politician of the caliber of Modi would not have any idea that Arun Jaitley was conspiring to take it all away from him right under his nose.
The other accusation I often hear against Jaitley is that he is a member of the “16o club”, someone who hopes to be a compromise PM if the BJP is far away from 272. Well, everyone in every party has their own private ambitions. This is not a crime in itself. In fact, the most thriving and successful party will be that one which allows breathing space for ambitions of its members. And should the hypothetical 160 situation arise, there are a lot of contenders who could become “compromise Prime Minister”. Rajnath Singh for instance, or Sushma Swaraj and even Nitin Gadkari. They could just as well be members of the “160-club”. But I have not seen so much anger against Rajnath or Sushma or Gadkari. If and when Rajnath faces RW anger, it is due to questions about his performance, while the online right wing is generally very favorable in its reviews of Sushma and Gadkari.
I have to ask : what exactly sets Arun Jaitley apart?
Is it that Arun Jaitley uses his tremendous leverage with Lutyens mafia only to safeguard his image but never the image of his party? Make no mistake, Jaitley has a lot of influence in Lutyens. Remember when Jaitley made his comment about “one small rape” causing so much damage to India’s image? Any other BJP politician referring to rape as “small” would have been buried by media outrage. But the media didn’t do anything to Jaitley. Rather, the media helped bury the comment and never talked about it again. So, is that what the online RW is complaining about? That he helps himself but not the party?
Let me know. I am really curious.
But I also want to sound one cautionary tone. I worry whether the online RW is being unfair to Jaitley based on certain prejudices about outward appearance. Yes, Jaitley looks like an “Angrez”. He sounds like an “Angrez”. And yes, the RW have been treated with so much disdain and condescension by Angrez types that I understand the prejudice we feel for them. Yes, people dressed like Arun Jaitley and people who speak like Arun Jaitley are often anti-Hindu and they treat us with scorn. I myself feel this way most of the time. I am suspicious of people like Sadanand Dhume and Swapan Dasgupta, because they sound too “Angrez” for my taste. But there is a pitfall here. Anti-intellectualism pursued as an end in itself allows the allegations of the Left to turn into a self fulfilling prophecy.
In conclusion, I am confused about Arun Jaitley. The confusion probably shows in the way this post is written. More than that, I am curious. And most importantly, I really want to hear your views. Help me out here, folks.