Chittibabu Padavala reviews the so called “explosive interview” with #ArunShourie
I had almost started laughing when I was halfway through the first sentence of the lead paragraph of this interview with Arun Shourie when the interviewer Swati Chaturvedi writes, “As part of the research for my book, I Am a Troll, I interviewed the former Bharatiya Janata Party leader Arun Shourie..” only to experience disappointment and dismay to find that the she didn’t mean it ironically or nor was it any deadpan seriousness. Swati Chaturvedi believes, or at any rate wants us to believe, that Arun Shourie is a victim of Trolling. Obviously, Swati Chaturvedi doesn’t know that the man is the Supreme Troll himself, avant la lettre.
Arun Shourie has been the modern India’s most poisonous, formidable and effective troll for many decades, when trolling was not easy. When he was at the height of his power and influence, there was no ‘online’ and/or social media or cyber crowd. Arun Shourie fell by the sword he lived by. When the latest reaper of the harvest of the hatred Arun Shourie sowed had no time for the obsessive ideologue, the followers less calculated and more authentic than him made a mincemeat of him. And yet, the Hindu Liberal hearts bleed for him in an endless pan-national and international blood donation campaign.
Hagiographer and court historian Ramachandra Guha might still be struggling to forget the consequences he faced when he abused Arundhati Roy by calling her Arun Shourie of the Left, but as one with a single-minded careerist eye for opportunity everywhere, Shourie himself seems to have taken it to heart. From Teesta Setalvad to murderous attacks on Muslims, from Emergency to Dictatorship, all possible causes here Arun Shourie plunders to feed his pathological and impatient quest for power and fashion his blackmail as a confession, even a critique.
This ‘crocodile multiplied by chameleon’ sheds so many tears to create a full spacious pond for this self-serving moral poseur in his comfortable lebensraum decorated by the ignorant interviewer’s intermittent showers of fawning sympathy, causing a veritable flood of journalistic unselfconscious unprofessionalism.
Either the possible list of questions the journalist could have asked or the downright lies and gaps and self-contradictions, brazen lack of minimal – even performative – human compunction in this incredible, yes, Eichmann-like (not the real one but Arendt’s picture of him) Shourie would make this post bigger than this already longish interview itself.
The Wire people dropped an early hint. They called it in the tag line an “explosive interview”. They must have thought they were being so awesomely strategic in turning one of the disgruntled Hindu Nazists against the Hindu Führer himself. This website which specializes more in opinion than news, yet does a good job of standing up to the Hindu Nazists, stoops to a most shocking level of self-abuse in becoming a tool of this hardened hate-speaker’s continued lies and myths. The Wire doesn’t even take the slightest editorial distance from the contents of the interview. Why? It might look confusing, who is using whom? Is it a case of mutual deception or exchange of self-deception? None of it, I guess.
What is unstated here is unhidden too. Arun Shourie is forever the disavowed secret crush of all the liberal, left, progressive, modernist upper castes of all religions in India. He is a man who dared to attack Ambedkar, maligned Reservations. Minus-BJP, he is a plus to their cause.
Though ‘The Wire’ seems to be seducing the gullible or unsuspecting readers to believe that this man is regretting now, or that at least he has turned of late a hostile witness or being a useful crook to mobilize or spread dissent among his huge fandom, it allows his typical poison unabated. Just check what he says about VP Singh.
To be fair, unusually for him Arun Shourie manages some argumentatively coherent sentences and even passages. Well, Arun Shourie was one of the very first popular Indian writers to actually draw on some serious scholarship on fascism (typically he messes it up, but still), much before many leftists even looked beyond Stalin and Stalinists. And, he pretty much gets it right as to what is new with Modi.
This professional self-debasement of The Wire is not any simple ‘closing of ranks’ or ‘the enemy’s enemy is my friend’ or any such crude principle misapplied. This is the same old story of what is dubbed by a Dalit Marxist as the upper caste capacity to spontaneously regroup without trouble and disband quietly.
The essay is based on a Facebook post by the author