"That you may smile and smile and be a villain"
His great contribution to politics: pulling his party, the BJP, from two to some one hundred and eighty seats in parliament—all on the back of a hate-filled, anti-Muslim pogrom.
His great contribution to "thought": coining the phrase "pseudo-secularism,"—defined as any activity on behalf of the state to ameliorate the abysmal social and economic situation of India’s Muslims.
This lean and hungry man, unctuous in speech, guilt-ridden finger-tips gingerly touching across his chest, watched over by foxy moustache, affecting gravitas with tentative stoop and bended head within which breed impulses of self-serving small-mindedness—this undeserving man who would be India’s prime minister has finally been found out.
And, like the priest who forged the gun-powder plot (and justified, during his interrogation, equivocation as sanctioned religious practice), he no longer can equivocate either to the nation or to god. Perhaps to himself as well. Although that must be in doubt.
Four members out of five that constituted the Cabinet Committee on Security during the Vajpayee regime in 1999 have made public averment that he was always present in the meetings that deliberated the hijack of the IC-814 by terrorists, and, contrary to his denials, was wholly in the know of and in agreement with the decision to let the then foreign minister accompany three high-value terrorists to Kandhar.
Thus, the Lauh Purush (iron man) has been found to be an abject equivocator merely, and a cowardly one at that.
Just as in that fateful month of December, 1992, having done everything to prepare the pogrom that brought the Babri mosque down, even as he stood and watched alongwith other gleeful members of the Sangh Parivar, he equivocated within hours to call his own doing the "saddest day" of his life.
And now the expelled founder member of the BJP, Jaswant Singh, foreign and finance minister during the NDA regime, reveals in an interview to Outlook Magazine that this same equivocator was fully in the know of the plan to discredit parliament and the Manmohan Singh government by a disingenuous display of currency within the House, paid ostensibly by the governmental side to buy the vote of three members of his party.
Jaswant Singh’s phrase: "he was at the centre of it."
And before you say how could this be, his then closest aid, Sudhendra Kulkarni, (now out of the BJP), indicted by a parliamentary committee as the chief "facilitator of the bribes," says in his own defence that not he but "some other BJP leader" was responsible.
Who, he does not yet tell; but halelujah, this ought to be end of gulling, no?
And till the time of writing, this overrated darling of the corporate media has said nothing, refuted nothing.
Important and interesting to recall that this equivocator famously made the god Ram his chief point of political reference; interesting because this may be one Hindu god who is justly invoked for moral truthfulness.
But those times are long gone when Hindu teaching, or for that matter the teaching of any religion, was essentially to marry practice to precept.
With the advent of the capitalist mode of production and capitalist social organization, those that came to rule the world learnt that religion was best meant to furnish the ideological armoury to bolster profit-making, as Commodity relegated the human being and enshrined the product of his/her labour as deity. "Fetishism," Marx called this inhuman inversion of values.
Which is why the equivocator is not about to be condign and throw in the towel.
That requires conscience and a genuine attachment to ethical ideas—concepts that remain eminently flexible within Hinduism anyway. Where Christians of any denomination are taught to know that they are, first and foremost, sinners (mea culpa)—which is why often you hear of sundry leaders, born Christian, expressing contrition and apology for their proven misdeeds—Hindus are told that god is not something outside the human but that we are all god. Or, can be.
This is a construct that then makes misdeeds available to the workings of ingenuity and philosophical interpretation, and Hindu texts are replete with instances of such high-minded manoeuvre.
And what but manoeuvre is at the heart of the politics of capitalism, especially of the fundamentalist free-market variety?
The trouble with manoeuvre is that it signifies great ability so long as it works.
When, however, it comes naked as manoeuvre, a great cry goes up. And such is now the case with India’s beloved "main opposition party."
Yet, as I had suggested in my last column ("The Democracy Flu" etc., Znet, August, 26), powerful interests among India’s ruling elites will spare no effort to find excuses for the equivocator and the party he leads in parliament.
After all, where that other main party of the bourgeoisie, the Indian National Congress, remains tainted with "statist" impulse and pedigree, lapsing all too frequently into welfarism and economic regulation, and, god forbid, into secularism, however equivocal now and again, it is the BJP which suits the ruling class the best.
The BJP has the great virtue, on the one hand, of deriding all forms of state regulation in the life of profiteering and the career of privatized wealth, and on the other, of regulating nationalism in that most helpful double- bind of militarism and religiosity. Both mightily conducive to quelling social resistance and protest, and yielding great opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Especially within Hinduism, religion is big business 365 days of any year; not to speak of war-mongering "preparedness" as that endless mine of pelf.
For good reason, thus, that fascist organization, the RSS, has been having a field day of media exposure and approval as it arrives in Delhi to sort out the wranglings of its misbehaving progeny.
And even as Sonia Gandhi, head of the Congress party and the ruling UPA, and elected member of parliament, is never spared for being the "remote control" of the government, the RSS, a wholly illegitimate source of unconstitutional social power with antecedents too heinous to be recounted, is lauded for its efforts to bring the BJP back to sense, and to put the quarrelsome Humpty Dumpties back on the political wall.
Very soon, before you know, India’s corporate media may well be singing praises of how efficiently the Sangh Parivar has put its house in order, and how in the days to come media attention must be directed at foregrounding its ineluctable virtues and deriding the Congress and Sonia Gandhi, all, no doubt, in the larger "national interest." What some channels are now constrained to call "chaos" will soon be found to have been evidence of great inner-party democracy.
And the equivocator-in-chief will be sought to be redeemed, since he still seems to them the only alternate candidate for prime ministership that may be endorsed, one "celebrity" columnist calling him an "inquiring mind." Alas, circumstance and age may no longer bring that dream to fruition. Thankfully.
Meanwhile, India’s Left parties and other Left-of-Centre forces seem in no position whatsoever to occupy the space that the BJP seems for now unable to recapture. You see, apart from their other weaknesses, they favour neither militarism nor religiosity. Hopeless in India.
Nor, and this must be the chiefest irony, would even the ruling Congress prefer their revival to the revival of the BJP.
Something that speaks, after all, to the nature of the Indian state, and to the political options favoured by those that own it.
As to the 77% Indians who cannot muster a spending of more than half a dollar a day, there is always the next religious festival, or the next godman. Or, failing those, what Hamlet called "self-slaughter."
Although, let it be noted, that these relegated Indians, till now "fodder for the cannon." may not remain thus for too long. Millions upon millions of them seem on very short fuse, and not amenable to fooling for much longer.
Not to forget for all that that India is the world’s "largest democracy," and a great- power-to-be.