Arun Shourie: Forget the why of his speech and focus on the what – Seetha

Arun Shourie

Seetha“Question Shourie’s motives all you want, but there is no getting away from the fact that the Big Change that the Modi government held out hopes for has just not come. Let not Modi induct Shourie into his government if he doesn’t want. But go beyond the why and how of his words and focus on the what.” – Seetha

Congress-BJP LogoIf anyone wanted to see how a man called Narendra Modi could completely reverse the fan following of the country’s leading right-wing intellectual Arun Shourie, one only had to be at the launch of T. N. Ninan’s book, The Turn of the Tortoise, in Delhi on Monday.

As Shourie lit into the Narendra Modi government in his inimitable style of public speaking, the assembled Intellectual Class of Delhi was in splits, lapping up every word and frequently applauding the man whom they once reviled as a Hindutva Hardliner and whose books, The World of Fatwas (on the issue of fatwas by Muslim religious leaders) and Worshipping False Gods (on B. R. Ambedkar), were met with the kind of righteous indignation that only India’s secular brigade is capable of summoning.

This reversal isn’t new. L. K. Advani got a whole new band of admirers when it became obvious that he was not in favour of Modi becoming prime minister and even more when he was completely sidelined. Suddenly the Hated Hawk, who supposedly had blood on his hands because his rath yatra for the Ram Janmabhoomi movement in the late 1980s was followed by a trail of riots, became a Pitiable Dove.

But lost in the applause after Shourie finished his initial remarks and walked back to his seat was an aside by television journalist Sreenivasan Jain who was moderating the discussion: “Wooh, this is what you get when you keep Arun Shourie out of your cabinet.” Was Shourie speaking out of pique? An unqualified yes, would be the answer from many former admirers who are also Modi’s, fans and cannot get over the fact that their intellectual icon is attacking their political icon.

But there are always two parts to Shourie’s speeches—what he says and how he says it. Often it is the ‘how’ that grabs attention and is slammed or applauded, depending on who or what the object of his acerbic wit is. It is the ‘how’ that prompts questions about motives. But when it comes to the ‘what’, there is no denying that Shourie was right on many counts, never mind why he said it.

Shourie was on weak ground on two occasions. At one point he said people are now remembering doctor-saheb (pointing to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who was sitting in the audience) and saying aur kuch nahin to sayana to tha (if nothing else, at least he was wise). But this was the same Singh whom Shourie had dismissed as ’eminent careerist’ in the course of a television interview in the dying days of the United Progressive Alliance government (when the interviewer had referred to Singh and Montek Singh Ahluwalia as eminent economists).

Shourie was right that businessmen complained bitterly in private about the Modi government even as they publicly gave it 9 marks out of 10 for performance. But this is not a post-May 2014 phenomenon. Businessmen have the same publicly-servile-privately-grousing approach with every government.

There was little mention during the panel discussion of the fact that not only is the fiscal deficit coming under control, the quality is also improving with the share of capital expenditure getting higher; that the roads sector is seeing a lot of traction; that growth is picking up slowly. These are things happening beyond the managed headlines that Shourie spoke about.

But the fact that the government is doing some things right does not take away from the fact that there is little action on several other crucial fronts. This inaction could have consequences that could negate the other gains.

Can the Modi government’s ardent supporters deny that banking reform is proceeding very slowly? As Ninan (who can’t be said to be speaking out of pique) said when asked what is the one suggestion he would give the prime minister if he met him, the government needs to focus on setting the banking sector right.

The government has taken several steps to improve financial inclusion—Jan Dhan Yojana, payment banks, Mudra Bank—but the public sector banks, which account for over 70 per cent of the banking sector, are still nowhere close to autonomy, Indradhanush notwithstanding. Was Shourie wrong to flag this or point out that the government must ensure the independent directors on bank boards are truly independent?

Was Shourie wrong in pointing out that tax administration continues to be harassment-prone? Anyone who has dealt with the tax bureaucracy will testify that it continues to run riot, unchecked. Does reining it in require legislation? Can the Modi government deny the self-goal it scored on MAT?

Was Shourie also wrong in pointing out that the Modi government takes an aggressive position on controversial issues at first and then quickly backs down? That is what happened in the case of the land acquisition law and many commentators seen as pro-Modi have pointed to this folly.

Was Shourie wrong in pointing out that disinvestment is a sham since the Life Insurance Corporation is picking up the majority of the shares of the public sector companies that the government has put up for sale? Is this government’s disinvestment strategy any different from that of the UPA?

Question Shourie’s motives all you want, but there is no getting away from the fact that the Big Change that the Modi government held out hopes for has just not come. Let not Modi induct Shourie into his government if he doesn’t want. But go beyond the why and how of his words and focus on the what. – Swarajya, 27 October 2015

» Seetha is a senior journalist and author.

9 Responses

  1. Arun Shourie (whom this writer has met a number of times) is sincere and knows exactly what he is talking about.

    He is not acting out of pique as has been suggested by some, and his critique of the NDA government’s non-performance on some fronts is informed and should be taken seriously.

    The truth is Modi’s Hindu constituency is not happy with his inaction on cultural issues and Big Business is not happy either for their own reasons.

    Modi badly needs an expert and credible team to work with him. The fact that he does not have such a team leads to questions about his governing style.

    Everybody wants Modi’s reforms and projects to succeed. But so far all we get is headlines—just as Shourie says.

    Cleaning the Ganga has come to naught. And getting back black money from abroad is a fiasco (not a single politician has been named!).

    The UPA’s pink revolution continues to grow bigger and bigger under the NDA regime.

    Changes in the NDA’s approach to government has to be made soon—not in 25 years as suggested above—or Narendra Modi will not get a second term.

    And that would be a catastrophe for the country if it should come about.


  2. Shourie was absolutely not right for “what” he said. And it was foolish to put a spin towards “what” he said. If we go to what there are millions of things which are wrong in last thousand years and particularly last 68 years and more particularly 10 years of UPA rule, which will take at least 25 years to clean up all anti national mess. The dumb and dumbers will not understand how culture, religion, politics and military power is closely connected to economic prosperity. Because of the albatross round the neck of Hindu leaders, we have to sing only economic development. So, we are choosing priorities. And the libraries talk about “what”? Narendra Modi’s priorities are subtle and bold are absolutely correct no matter disgruntled will whine and wail.


  3. Excellent. Srinivasan Jain, Burka Rajdeep and Sagarika are abominable. But Sonia and the entire amoral lot like loathsome Kapil Sibal, P.Chidambaram of endless greed Jaishwal Ashwini Kumar were happily hacking the very roots if our foundation.

    The press was pleased for ten years with a Most complying utterly shameless and feckless Manmohan. Sonia who torpedoed Kslam’s second term and flustered Indira Gandhi’s domestic Pratibha as the President is the eternal Beyond criticism deity of the press still.

    Let Shourie reflect upon the indignity Nation suffered under the bandits of the UPA.

    There is no dignity righteousness or grace in people who forgotten the miserable ten year rule of a coterie headed by an extra constitutional Sonia and the ever complying Coalition Dharma fame Manmohan.

    Sonia was the killer Arjuna The Dharma quoting Manmohan the charioteer Krishna. But actually the entire UPA was a kaurava Clan. Every other in the cabinet was a Dukshasan. Keechak Sakuni or something even worst.

    To forget the known and any unknown scams under Sonia is a crime. Suddenly the poison that was UPA had become the elixir for Shourie. That he found Manmohan sitting there wise is an assinine comment.

    On the whole it reveals the mindset of people who have not been given a damn.

    Cabinet post. Sulking whining and making themselves into the despicable objects.


  4. If you are referring to the Congress Cow photo below, it has been posted on Twitter by various tweeters.


  5. Those who are criticizing the PM must google and read the story of “the black dot”.Will Arun Shourie be willing to take the job of the PM if offered ? we all must stand as one behind a good intentioned man trying to do the best for Bharat. we know now how the italian maid functioned.If Arun Shourie cannot see how much damage was done to the people of the country by khangress he should die.

    All those who do not function in govt should be shunted out and their report card put up on the party site.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. It took me a minute, and then I doubled-up with laughter. A great photo; shouldn’t it be widely disseminated? Can you sneak into a main stream newspaper or magazine?


  7. It is a great pity that a ten year misrule and Aberration of having Manmohan as a back door entrant to the parliament and as a puppet PM doing the bidding Of an extra constitutional Sonia is forgotten along with a scam-a-day assembly line turnouts.

    Manmohan’s shameless coinage ‘Coalition Dharma’ to justify the crimes of a 2G, Commonwealth, Coalgate and many more hidden from the public domain should never be forgotten.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The article is interesting. I wish to add a few points.

    I held Mr.Arun Shourie in high esteem so far. But after seeing his interview to ND Tv (of all channels, this one he has selected) I changed my views on his inducting into cabinet. If everyone, who already served in Atalji’s cabinet are to be accommodated now also, after 15 years, the party cannot grow. New faces like Manohar Parikkar,Nitin Gatkari, Ms Seetharaman, Ms Irani, Piyush Goel, who are functioning exceedingly well, cannot be known to us.

    In fact, Piyush Goel proved his auctioning action far more superior to earlier auctions, done so far in Independant India. HRD is functioning similarly. Regarding functioning of Parikkar, whole India will join me in applauding. Similarly the case of Nitin Gatkari. So what is left? Finance and Home. Home is far, far superior to the Home Ministers seen by India So far. So, we zero in on Arun Jaitley and his Finance Department. Mr.AJ is known in Delhi circles as a moderate one. Expecting him to be Right of Centre, immediately, is of no use. For that his services to BJP, so far, cannot be swept aside. People, who were taking sweet rest, in the side lines, and did nothing for BJP in their fight against the massive Congress, suddently seek the top job after BJP coming to power. NO. People who toiled, during difficult days, also to be considered. Mr.AJ may not be as aggressive as Piyush. But he is far, far better than PC (mired in scam news of late)

    Mr.AS, while complimenting Man Mohan Singh, could not ask these questions about Banking Reforms, his role in coal scam and his role even in 2G.

    If power is not given, then I will accuse you-this is not correct approach. His image is tarnished now. Any BJP worker will OPPOSE now any move to induct him in cabinet.

    Of all persons, Mr.Srinivasan Jain, a presstitute in the pay-roll of Sonia Gandhi, was moderating the discussion, tells a lot. If he appreciate Mr.Arun Shourie, you may understand the feelings of true follower of BJP.

    Whether GST or Land acquision bill, they could not get through RS. These intelligentia, could not assist Modi, in getting some support from the Man Mohan Singh (whom he is appreciating now). These people just sat in sidelines and enjoyed the difficulties faced by BJP. Now they are asking, where are the job employments, offered? When Industries could not be started, for lack of lands, where will employment come?

    Whether AJ accept Modi and his cabinet, people of India are accepting him. If these think-tanks want to help BJP, let them not vitiate the atmosphere. They are doing this during Election Times only. Mr.AS outburst earlier during Delhi Polls. Now during Bihar Polls.

    Additionally, Kulkarni became active and Senior Leader, most respected Mr.LKA supports him. He is reminded of Emergency days. Oh God!

    I remember earlier days. After Emergency, Mr.Morarji formed Non-Congress Govt. But their over-reaction in punishing Indra Gandhi + internal fights, led to downfall of Non-Congress Govt. Then another Non-Cong Govt under V.P.Singh. Followed by Ram Janmaboomi movement. So far O.K. But their over-reaction, hard-lines led to riots.

    PVN Rao, dismissed 4 State Governments of BJP. Yes, 4 BJP state Governments were dismissed, UP, MP, Rajasthan and H.P. The hardlines felt happy. Whether BJP was able to return back to power in these 4 states, No. And hard-liners felt happy and rested in their homes.

    We had Atalji Government, after a long time. But he was not allowed a free hand in doing his job. Hard liners again started. Additionally, Second-in-command, went to Pakistan and praised Jinnah. The net result of all acts, reflected in 2004. Again all these intellectuals, took rest in thei homes,

    After 2014 hard-fought victory, Modi is not allowed to function. Whenever State Elections are coming, these people vitiate the atmosphere. If they are really supporting BJP, let them not vitiate the atmosphere. For Rajya Sabha seats, these State Elections are very important.

    Let the hardliners keep silence till all State Elections are over. Let NOT this Government tenure also end in 5 years. Once stabilise, these agenda of extreme rightwings, seek in the second term. Development of India is important. Creation of jobs is important. Majority in LS and RS are important. Let Modi has some breathing space to show results.

    Let new faces, young talents function as BJP ministers. Old Guards may please allow these youngsters to function.

    Once Bihar elections are over, there will be calm. The criticism will again creep during UP elections, again during WB elections. No one will come forward to help BJP but will vitiate the atmosphere.

    In 10 years UPA did nothing but scams. And they are praised by ex-BJPians. But for Modi, not even 2 years are completed but expect miracles. That too from people who enjoyed power in BJP Governments.

    Liked by 1 person

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