Sunday, December 20, 2009

Farewell to the Iron Man

Vir Sanghvi's assessment of L.K. Advani's political career starts with some positives:

[L.K. Advani] is a man of integrity and stature who believes in old style politics when people were expected to work only for ideology. In Advani’s world-view, deal-making, the buying of MP’s and corruption all have no place in politics.

Nor is he motivated by power — unlike most of today’s politicians. Nobody whose chief motivation is power would have stuck with the Jan Sangh-BJP for so many decades when it looked as though the party would never come to power.

One gets the sense that Sanghvi's heart is not really in it, because each of these assertions is open to dispute: for example, the stuff about ideology is contradicted by Sanghvi himself later in the article (see below). Similarly, the stuff about Advani's alleged antipathy to deal-making can be countered by the Karnataka example.

But, Sanghvi follows up that trickle of positives with a deluge of negatives. Here's a quick sample:

Since the end of the Vajpayee era, the story of Advani’s leadership of the BJP has been the story of a man in search of an ideology.

Eager to shed the hardline image but without any core beliefs of his own, Advani looked for ways in which to project himself as a national leader. At every step along the way, he miscalculated.

He believed, for instance, that the BJP would win the 2004 election and that Vajpayee would step down in 2006, installing him as Prime Minister. In fact, the BJP lost.

Then, he believed that Sonia Gandhi would be PM and he could play the Indian alternative to her foreign leader. Sonia destroyed that calculation by installing Manmohan Singh. Advani miscalculated again by reckoning that Singh would be regarded as a puppet and promptly launched vicious personal attacks on him. In fact, Singh was widely respected and Advani’s abuse did the BJP more harm than good.

Next, he played the Pakistan card. Bizarrely, Advani believes that anyone who is soft on Pakistan is regarded as a liberal by Indians.

So, while during the Vajpayee government he had taken the credit for scuppering the Agra Summit, he now went around claiming that it had been his idea to invite Musharraf.

Advani had failed to learn his lesson when, during the 2004 election campaign, he had made the outrageous claim that Indian Muslims would vote for the BJP because the government had improved relations with Pakistan.

Indian Muslims angrily objected to the suggestion that they were pro-Pakistan.

But once he became Leader of the Opposition, Advani once again played the Pakistan card, visiting that country and showering MA Jinnah with praise. This won Advani no fans among Indian Muslim (who have no special affection for Jinnah) and damaged his credibility among liberals who wondered how far he would go in repudiating his past only to change his image. And of course, the RSS was outraged.


  1. Anonymous said...

    All of Vir's positive assertions are open to dispute, but none of his negative ones? Wah! An objective scientist and commentrator indeed.

  2. Abi said...

    @Anon: Did it occur to you that you could have disputed Sanghvi's negative assertions?

  3. Anonymous said...

    Abi, I don't have to. I believe Vir is a mediocare journalist, so I do not care what he has to say. I heard him yesterday for 30 sec on CNN with RS and it was tripe.

    But I do care for your thoughts and your objectivity, which is the reason I visit your blog.

  4. Abi said...

    @Anon: You said, "... I do care for ... your objectivity ...".


    One has to be Iron Man's Iron Man to be objective about the former. Thanks for expressing your hope, anyway...

  5. Anonymous said...

    I am not Anon above but Abi, seriously, you are in urgent need of a psychiatrist.

  6. Anonymous said...

    Abi, I am anon 1/3. I agree with #5. I have been at this site for a few months and all I have seen is angst and cynicism from you. You seem incapable of any other emotion. Seriously. Instead of LOLing again at this mail take a look at yourself in the mirror.

    Coming to Iron man, my opinion of either him or the BJP is unlikely to be any better any yours. But I, at least like Vir, know that even Advani has some redeeming features which we should acknowledge, even if grudgingly. I suspect you do not see others in this way as you probably have none yourself.

    I have decided not to vist your site anymore. I do sincerely hope you will grow up to your age some day.


  7. RainbowScientist said...

    Vir Sanghvi is a pro-congress person and his arguments are shaddy in most cases, so it is not surprice that he will start with some positive about Advani and then go on to make more negatives. I never find his article balanced, so don't take his view seriously.

  8. Anonymous said...

    Vir Sanghvi is not only biased, his arguments are often factually incorrect damn retard needs to be pretty ignorant to find objectivity and logic in this guy's writings.