Did Arun Shourie attack Modi at the behest of RSS?

Rana Ayyub
Rana AyyubMay 06, 2015 | 11:21

Did Arun Shourie attack Modi at the behest of RSS?

Former BJP minister Arun Shourie's outburst against the Narendra Modi government, and his scathing attack on the "trimurti" (the Modi, Amit Shah, Arun Jaitley troika) seems to be part of a pattern that began with Subramanian Swamy's criticism last month.

Swamy, a staunch right-wing leader, who merged his Janata party with the BJP, attacked the Modi government in the second week of April over the purchase of 36 Rafale jets from France. Threatening to go against the government should it finalise the deal, Swamy said, "If the prime minister for some other 'compulsion' decides to go ahead with the deal, I will have no option but to approach the court in PIL to get it set aside." 


The dust on the incident had barely settled when Ram Jethmalani, who still retains the primary membership of the party, and is the counsel for Amit Shah in the fake encounter case, published a half-page advertisement in the Indian Express last week. The former law minister hit out against the Modi government, calling the promise of getting the black money back a political "jumla". The advert is clearly seen as a means to air his frustrations over an "unpardonable betrayal". 

And the most recent to air his grievance is no other than veteran BJP leader Arun Shourie who took on the government, attacking it on various grounds and accusing it of managing headlines. Shourie's sharp attack on the troika has been termed by many as a personal attack on Arun Jaitley, a long time rival. One of the most prolific editors at the Indian Express, it was Shourie's exposé on former Maharashtra chief minister AR Antulay that led to his resignation over misappropriation of funds. 

His proximity to the Sangh Parivar is no secret either. His book Missionaries in India is still widely quoted by members of the RSS in their attack against missionaries in the country. So what prompted Shourie to feel the pain of Julio Ribeiro in his interview on Headlines Today, where he expressed concern over the attack on Christians in India?


Is Shourie contradicting himself today, having attacked the likes of Ambedkar and Muslim leaders in the past? Or is the self-confessed right-wing ideologue giving words to the sentiments of the RSS and other senior leaders in the BJP in whose support he lashed out at the Modi government, accusing it of hyperbole? 

In a conversation with this reporter a BJP leader who claims to be a dear friend of Shourie's suggested that the former minister in the Vajpayee government had started to feel uneasy more than six months ago. He had expressed his apprehension late last year when, at a business meet in Singapore, he told the delegates that Modi will have to distance himself from the Delhi gang. It was a direct attack on Arun Jaitley who is Modi's representative from Lutyens' Delhi. However, his scathing indictment of the Modi government last week is no longer just about Jaitley. 

It's also about the other two, Shah and Modi, whose desire for self-publicity has irked the Sangh and sections of the BJP. Listen closely to Shourie and you will realise that he is speaking for those who cannot openly express their disillusionment. At the foremost, the Sangh and many veteran BJP leaders including Sushma Swaraj have expressed their frustration at being restricted to a mere nameplate in the current dispensation. "India's foreign policy is getting reoriented, Modi has to move faster. The US is already feeling impatient. Keeping Sushma Swaraj on the margins is wrong," said Shourie, indicating that Modi had sidelined Sushma, whose acrimonious relations with the troika are no secret.


It was an RSS sentiment which Shourie echoed yet again when he said that the highly-publicised and media-managed events in New York did not indicate that all was well between Modi and US president Barack Obama. 

Most of us in the media know of similar sentiments expressed by senior leadership in the RSS, which has not taken very kindly to the PM's publicity drive on his foreign visits. It is no surprise that Shourie, who has maintained that he stood with the RSS on principles, used the occasion to convey the sentiments of the Sangh. His comments about the anxiety over "Love Jihad" and "Ghar Wapsi" are no surprise either as Shourie, on many occasions, has expressed his disenchantment with the lumpen elements of RSS who have nothing to do with its ideology. 

Towards the end of the interview, Shourie quotes a Faiz couplet to drive home his point. And in this he does not nail Jaitley - it is a direct attack on the man at the helm of affairs - Narendra Modi, who he suggests has been unable to fulfil the promise of change and development: "Ab aur kisi farda ke liye in aankhon se kya paimaan kije… (Stop making new promises. It's time, instead, to start fulfilling the old promises you have made)". 

And Shourie does not stop at this, he also accuses the PM of hypocrisy for wearing a monogrammed suit and refusing to take to Twitter for more serious issues. 

What has propelled Shourie from advising Modi to launching a full throttle attack on him. Not just him, Shourie's disenchantment is also echoed by Swamy and Jethmalani, two people who have been in the good books of the PM. Modi's opponents believe that the vindictive attitude of the troika has prompted these senior leaders to come out in the open, and with tacit support of the Sangh Parivar. The intensity of the rebellion is increasing within the party and all eyes are on the outcome of the Bihar elections. The rout faced by the party in the municipal elections in West Bengal has already emboldened Modi baiters in the party.

Shourie's interview is a warning that Modi cannot afford to ignore.

Last updated: May 06, 2015 | 11:21
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