The Pavlovian response of the media and many well-meaning individuals is that open debate is always to be shunned because it violates the disciplinary code. This is a silly view and reeks of Stalinism.
Since May 16 I have been advocating a full-fledged, open debate in the BJP on the road ahead and, by implication, what went wrong. The party has consistently stonewalled all debate because those at the organisational helm don't have the intellectual self-confidence to either contribute or respond meaningfully to such a debate.
Consequently, the debate has been taking place in non-official platforms (such as this blog) and in the media. I was glad that Arun Jaitley wrote a though-provoking piece in Indian Express. I was also heartened by Sudheendra Kulkarni's offering in Tehelka (my response has become the subject of a fresh media controversy).
However, the seriousness of the discussions was broken by the out-and-out factional sub-text of Yashwant Sinha's "leaked" note to the party president (or, should I say, NDTV). My response to it in Asian Age/ Deccan Chronicle was considered by some to be excessively harsh.
I was amused that Sinha has called for a probe into who leaked his letter. TV editors I have spoken to have indicated that there were two parallel points of leak. The first was through an associate of Pramod Mahajan (who hates Jaitley) and the other was was the unlikely figure of a cerebral Rajya Sabha MP. I gather that the follow-up was done by a disagreeable journalist (one who signed the 20-points during the Emergency) whose nomination to the Rajya Sabha has been blocked by Jaitley on two separate occasions.
The same factional considerations were again at play Tuesday morning when the TV channels began the "breaking news" about Arun Jaitley's alleged resignation from the party. Considering that Jaitley resigned on June 6 as General Secretary after being appointed Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, what was the reason behind some people wilfully painting it as a point of dissent?
The answer lies in the insecurities of those who imagine they will be out of a job in December/January. The idea is to throw as much as possible on Jaitley, make him a controversial figure and ensure that he is not considered as a possibility for president of the party.
What some people are getting increasingly nervous about is the news that the appointment of Sushma Swaraj (as deputy leader in LS) and Jaitley was done by Advani in consultation with the RSS. Today's shenanigans were done with an eye to influencing the big-wigs of Nagpur.
But all these a rubbishy moves that have nothing to do with the substantive political issues. Once the party decides its future orientation, the appointment of the faces to project will follow naturally.
Also keep in mind there is one person who has kept himself aloof from the murkiness in Delhi. Narendra Modi's firm handling of a potentially explosive problem in Surat has won him praise.
Modi is being needlessly equated with Varun by unthinking media types but his is a class act.
Some of the comments to my earlier blogs have detected an apparent contradiction between my dislike of hardline politics and my support for Modi. That is because I believe that Modi will soon come to be accepted as the most enlightened and modern BJP face.
Just look at the regressive types who were trying to create a riot in Surat and you will see what I mean.
POSTSCRPT: In the Hindu Thought yahoogroup, Mr Arvind Lavakare wrote on June 20:
My reply to Mr Lavakare:
I have never had the occasion to get to know Arvind Lavakare personally. I therefore presume he does not know me, except through my writings and other public interventions. Yet, he has been presumptuous enough to make a series of personal attacks.It began with some snide remarks about my education--which I don't flaunt but of which I am completely unapologetic. Now he has questioned my integrity. At this rate he will extend his critique to my ethnic or social origins.I have no intention of affirming my credentials. To do so would be to dignify Lavakare's personal attacks as a substitute for an informed debate on ideas.I merely hope that the attacks on where I write, who went to college with me and who are my friends are not in any way an expression of envy. It is a matter of satisfaction for me that I get a platform in the mass media (cutting across editorial positions). Engaging with the wider world is daunting but much more meaningful than gloating inside a sectarian ghetto. I strong recommend Lavakare also tries earning a livelihood out of writing for "a range of prosperous English newspapers". It could be a humbling experience.Swapan Dasgupta.