From his fearless journalism days in the heat of emergency to his defiance of established rules of intelligentsia (that is kowtowing in front the secular principles, declaring Nehru as the ‘Caesar’s wife’ and deriding anything that is right-of-centre), Arun Shourie had, for most of his career, emerged as a political leader with the kind of contrarian intellectual heft that was, even if grudgingly, respected by the established intelligentsia. In the year 1975, serving as an economist at World Bank and advisor of the planning commission, Shourie took an ‘about turn’ and jumped in for ‘the national duty’ at the time of emergency. During the “internal emergency” imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the young Shourie decided to fight against the attrition of civil liberties and began writing for The Indian Express, which was bearing the brunt of the government’s censorship drive. The former Union Minister of Communication and Information Technology, made his whole career busting the propaganda peddled by the congress party and left liberal media. However, his latest move left the masses disillusioned about his whole caricature.
After bashing the liberal cabal for his entire life, lately, Shourie made a presence at the Mahagathbandhan sponsored United India Rally (a drive of the opposition parties to bring, all the parties against the NDA, under a common flag) organized by Mamata Banerjee at Kolkata. In the rally, Shourie urged the Opposition to work together “at any cost” to ensure the exit of the Modi government. “We have to have one single aim — throwing the BJP out. Undertake sacrifices readily. Become Arjun (the Mahabharat warrior) and do not waver from this one lakshya (aim).” Shourie stressed that the mission “will not be easy”. “One candidate against every BJP candidate has to be ensured. Division of votes will be lethal. This sacrifice is a must, out of love for this country,” the 77-year-old said. Former Union Minister further claimed that Modi knows the “reality” and will fight hard. “Trust me; Modi knows his grip has loosened. He will do everything he can to cling to power”, added Shourie.
Former Union minister and disgruntled BJP leader Arun Shourie said that the opposition must unite together for 'one goal, one vow' and that should be to "outcast the BJP"
— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) January 19, 2019
But this ‘in the flash’ shift of sides by the ‘Magsaysay Award’ winner, former journalist, is beyond conviction. Whenever one thinks of Shourie, his aura appeared to be someone who fights for what is true and is unapologetic about his approach in the pursuit of unveiling the naked truth. Working as the executive editor of Indian Express during the period of Emergency, he made a series of remarkable exposés. Shourie uncovered corruption in the highest stratum of the government, including what has been dubbed “India’s Watergate.”
Not only that, in 1981, Shourie started crusade against Abdul Rahman Antulay, the then CM of Maharashtra, who extorted millions of dollars from businesses dependent on state resources and put the money in a private trust named after former PM Indira Gandhi. This expose eventually paved the way for the resignation of the state governor of Maharashtra. This resignation is marked as the highest-ranking official in India ever forced from office by newspaper reporting, and was a great embarrassment to Indira Gandhi and her party.
Further, In 1986, when the then PM Rajiv Gandhi came up with an ‘absurd’ proposal of ‘The Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act 1986’, to nullify the decision in Shah Bano case and retain Muslim votes; former journalist was one of the prominent voices who objected the proposal. Shourie wrote an article on the proposal, as it was widely criticized by all the sections of the society. In his article, he pointed out the fact that ill-treatment of women are against the teaching of the holy Quran, although the application of Islamic law in practice was oppressing them. Many Islamic scholars to the likes of Rafiq Zakaria and others opposed him at that time claiming that the article is an attack on Islam. One of the flag bearers of the liberal media, Vir Sanghvi even called him as “Hindu chauvinist with a liberal face”. For almost past four decades, Arun Shourie has been on the ‘point blank’ of the so-called liberal establishments. In this regard, his open embrace of the Break India forces comes as shocking.
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Coming back at the Mahagathbandhan Rally, it will be interesting that how things turn from here. The Grand old party would too be in dilemma on how to cope with a voice that was against the Congress for most of his life. Also, another disturbing aspect of veteran politician for the Mahagathbandhan, while inducing him in, is his views on Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar. In one of his books, former Union Minister termed Ambedkar as “The collaborator of the British government and hostile to the freedom struggle”. Now the dilemma here is, one of the ‘silent’ members of ‘Mahagathbandhan’ the BSP of former UP CM Mayawati is ‘Bhakt’ of Ambedkar; and Dalit appeasement is the only way out for them to gain votes in the election. So, this adjustment will be a thrill to watch. Also, Shourie presented Ambedkar as an adversary to Mahatma Gandhi in his book. So many in Mahagathbandhan will too find him difficult to cope up with, Arun Shourie, for Mahagathbandhan, is the pill that ‘they might not like it, but they have to lump it’.
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Not only that, his presence at the United India Rally (it was anything but that) with some of the most regressive, parochial and divisive personalities Indian politics has ever seen revealed the kind of hollow-shell Shourie has become. The hatred for a man who took the party Shourie admired and was part of a life time, to new heights cannot be justified to the extent of Arun Shourie hobnobbing with these people. Shourie’s about-turn also shows that PM Modi was right about keeping him out of the cabinet in the first place. The kind of people Shourie is endorsing now reveals the deep-seated hatred for not only PM Modi but also the party and the ideology that made Shourie who he is today, or at least once was.