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Updated: March 27, 2011 02:49 IST

Hindu nationalism is opportunistic, said Jaitley

Suresh Nambath
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Leaked U.S. Embassy cable reveals senior BJP leader Arun Jaitely’s candid remarks on Hindutva, Narendra Modi and the party’s succession plan. File photo
PTI Leaked U.S. Embassy cable reveals senior BJP leader Arun Jaitely’s candid remarks on Hindutva, Narendra Modi and the party’s succession plan. File photo

Is Hindu nationalism the raison d'être of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), or just another vote-catching device? In a private conversation with American diplomats in May 2005, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley articulated the view that Hindu nationalism was an opportunistic issue for the party.

Mr. Jaitley, who is now the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, met with Robert Blake, the Charge at the U.S. Embassy, on May 6, 2005, and provided him and the Political Counsel an insightful exposition on the politics of Hindutva. “Pressed on the question of Hindutva, Jaitley argued that Hindu nationalism ‘will always be a talking point' for the BJP. However, he characterized this as an opportunistic issue,” the Charge wrote in a cable dated May 10, 2005 (32279: confidential).

“In India's northeast, for instance, Hindutva plays well because of public anxiety about illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh. With the recent improvement of Indo-Pak relations, he added, Hindu nationalism is now less resonant in New Delhi, but that could change with another cross-border terrorist attack, for instance on the Indian Parliament,” Mr. Blake reported on the interaction with Mr. Jaitley.

On the basis of these remarks on Hindutva made by Mr. Jaitley, the diplomat concluded that his “credentials with the Sangh Parivar are weak, and he may not have what it takes to mobilize the BJP base.”

A “relaxed and self-assured” Mr. Jaitley predicted that L.K. Advani would lead the party for another two to three years, “after which one of five next generation leaders (Jaitley among them) would take the reins.”

On the issue of revocation of the visa of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Jaitley complained that he could not understand how the United States could take such an action against the party that began the transformation of U.S.-India relations.

When Mr. Blake explained the “rationale and legal basis” for the U.S. decision, “Jaitley agreed with the Charge's point that Modi was a polarizing personality, but argued that it would have been better for the US to let the Chief Minister visit the US, where he would have attracted a few demonstrators and then nothing more would be said.”

The Modi issue aside, the BJP leader was upbeat on U.S.-India relations, “emphasizing that ties with the U.S. were no longer a point of controversy in Indian politics.” Citing his own situation as typical, “Jaitley noted that he has several nieces and sisters living in the U.S., and ‘five homes to visit between DC and New York.'”

In private, Mr. Jaitley appeared more willing to give credit to his political rivals where due. “Putting on his hat as a former Commerce Minister, Jaitley confessed that the BJP's opposition to a Value Added Tax (VAT) at the state level was based on a narrow political calculus, and predicted that the BJP states would adopt the VAT soon in order to protect their revenue streams. He gave the Congress government generally positive marks for its handling of economic policy issues, but focused on the contradictions inherent in the UPA coalition.”

In response to the “Charge's pitch for opening of the Indian services sector,” Mr. Jaitley, a Senior Advocate, agreed that legal services should be opened to foreign competition, “noting that the performance of the Indian bar has begun to improve, even though the quality of judges suffers from a ‘Gandhian' mindset that leads to unreasonably low salaries.” On the retail sector, Mr. Jaitley “argued that foreign competition should not seriously hurt the mom and pop stores that form a BJP constituency.”

In a concluding comment, the Charge wrote: “Although visibly pained by the Modi visa revocation, Jaitley was gracious and open throughout. He clearly values his personal and commercial connections to the US (several US corporates are legal clients). As the competition for BJP leadership heats up, Jaitley will enjoy the advantages of a telegenic personality and strong ties to the New Delhi establishment.”

(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via WikiLeaks.)

We could not expect more than this form a party who fight elections on Article 371, uniform civil code, Ram mandir and all other issues which has little to do with suffering of the common people. This party distorts history, starts astrology course to keep the masses ignorant. Has little concern about the life and property of the masses as they would organize riots, caste for vote.

from:  Rashmi Jain
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 20:19 IST

This clearly exposes the opportunistic nature of the BJP, who on one hand, proclaim to live and breathe everything 'swadeshi' and 'hindutva', while on the other hand, conveniently throw all that 'idealistic baggage' out of the window, the moment they sense their personal and corporate interests abroad could be harmed. Jaitley realizes that he better leave his pseudo-swadeshi fervor in the BJP's backyard itself, else it's 'curtains' to his future shuttles between DC and New York to visit his nieces and sisters living in the US. Of course, he wouldn't want that, would he ? Smart move, Mr. Jaitley ! We the illiterate masses of India, would be grateful, if you could please enlighten us by explaining ( in your characteristic style of course, laced with 'irrelevant technicalities', as another reader pointed out ), that all what you said and did is very much the epitome of 'swadeshi' and 'love for Bhaarath Maatha'.

from:  Amar
Posted on: Mar 27, 2011 at 00:19 IST

I agree with S.N.Bhatia's comment that America have spread their tentacles into various facets of Indian policy making but his comments that America may take over our country portends good news for the people of this country.Though they may swindle like our first colonial masters,the Brits,American rule could well be expected to raise all round improvements in our living standards of all sections of the society,from BPL class to APL class.We have gained immensely from the British rule, be it in education or the quality of the Railways and other infrastructure projects that have been built in the pre-independence era on which we still depend on.In the same way the Americans would stamp their class.I think we will be better off with a foreign master than an indigenous rule.What better proof we all need than Gary Kirsten/John Wright,the two overseas coaches who have taken Indian cricket from the depth of abyss to its present glory.

from:  Binu
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 23:32 IST

I seriously wish Mr.Advani does something serious to set free the BJP from RSS. It is after all, Mr.Advani who has almost single-handedly made the BJP -- he now needs to make sure that there are sensible patriots in the BJP or else the misleaders will only mislead the nation. Mr.Jaitley seems to be honest in speaking about Hindutva but he has to come out bravely and speak the hypocrisy that is inherent in Hindutva no matter what the consequences are. He must have said strongly inside BJP that the so-called Ekta Yatra to Kashmir which was designed by RSS is polarizing. There are even other extremely important things like BJP's support to formation of smaller states which is disastrous for the nation in the long-term but beneficial for the BJP in the short-term.

from:  Yashwanth P
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 23:06 IST

We cannot expect more than this from the party whose ideological base in the fascist RSS. Organizing riots, vote for cash and now selling the country to foreigners. What more we can expect from a party with the difference.

from:  Mahtab Azad
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 22:41 IST

Well, well, well... what's here that the US diplomats couldn't have picked up from a newspaper? So let's not get so upset. Of course, these guys are corrupt, selfish and the rest. But are they also stupid? Did they line up at the American embassy to tell tales? If so, it doesn't make sense, because they were telling the Americans very basic stuff (unless there are unleaked Wikileaks with the real story). The question is, what did they get in return? The same rubbish that they sold?

from:  Pabitra
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 20:32 IST

I am not able to understand why would Indian politicians reveal their hidden agenda to US diplomatic personnels? Why would Mr. Jaitley hint that Hindutva is opportunistic to US diplomat if BJP's main agenda is Hindutva, what is his gain by admitting candidly his nefarious agenda? On similar lines, another cable indicated that ruling UPA alliance people showed US diplomat trunk full of money which will be used to buy opposition votes. Why would they do that? I can think of two logical ways: either US is also involved covertly in these money transactions and back-door operations in a big way or diplomatic's imagination is running too wild to believe.

from:  Debashish Sarkar
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 19:02 IST

I request all the citizens of India - Hindus, Muslims, Sikh, Christians and others not fight but come together to re-built our India where the shouldn't be any place for this type of leaders who just make money and only think for their benefit. They don't have anything to do with 'aam aadmi'. So i once again request you all not to allow these types of politics which divide us and kick these types of leaders out of politics for the better future of our India.

from:  Ahmed
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 18:32 IST

Wisdom by hindsight is a popular maxim Wikileaks exposes serve no purpose except to revive past likes,dislikes and prejudices. The Media's expectation of course correction by political parties is only an exercise in futility,

from:  G.Naryanaswamy
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 17:47 IST

The latest Wikileaks revelations showed us again the double standards and the true colour of BJP. L.K Advani's mask was blown away earlier. Now it's Arun Jaitley's turn. They are so hungry for power and will surrender anything.

from:  Sindhu George
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 17:28 IST

Disgruntled by Jaitley's remark. This BJP leader has made the great ideal's of RSS an opportunistic issue. They don't have belief in the great tradition and culture of this country neither they have any respect for values of our founding father. Jaitley's remark that his niece and nephews are in America so favours strengthning of INDO-US relation shows how personally opportunistic he is. If BJP has to regain confidence and trust of people who has lost all the hope from present govt after discovery of corruption empire, then it must reinvent itself and show the door to it's elite leadership who are miles away from orginal India and hypocrisy is their original slogan and belief.

from:  Alok Kumar
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 16:37 IST

My personal view is that the Political leaders should not have private view and Party view on the matters of national security and National economic interests. Speaking to US, UK, France German diplomats why we do have two different views on the National Issues? I fail to understand why we need to degrade ourselves when we speak to Western Diplomats? Do the western Diplomats observe similar Private and Party view with their national security and economic interests? When David Miliband visited India he attributed the Jihadi activities in India is as a result of Kashmir Issue. (His anti-India stand was public). When the Indian Political leaders will learn the language the western politicians talk?

from:  Dr. Ambekar.
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 14:45 IST

Two things are striking from the release of these Wiki Cqables: First most of our young and old so called politicians are loud-mouthed, egoistic, and seem to be opening up to the minions of US consulates to satisfy their egos and self importance, without realising the basic principles of statesmanship of being secretive about their inner thoughts and ideas of national policies, and learn how to keep the foreign powers just guessing. Second, the British entered this country as traders and gradually extracted concessions, till powerful enough to interfere in and then take over the reins of the whole country by fair or foul means. The Americans are being allowed to do almost the same thing, at present in the name of so called 'opening up the economy', but they are in fact penetrating their tentacles into every branch and wing of the govt. In due course, this country becomes another american stooge; and perhaps, who knows, down the road, America may be tempted to take over the country to protect its interests, and we have another slavery on the anvil.

from:  S N Bhatia
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 13:29 IST

Apart from the contents, what comes out from the Wikileaks mails is the US is extremely well organized. It is really amazing how carefully they record 'everything'. Later, this information can be analyzed by techniques to be discovered later or just be referenced when needed. We Indians have a long way to go.

from:  Vijay
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 13:17 IST

Reading this I recall what I'd read about a former (actually disgraced) BJP general secretary telling British diplomats in the early days of the BJP government. He had been quoted as describing A.B. Vajpayee as a 'mukhota' (mask)behind which the RSS's core agenda is concealed. A decade or so later, it seems that the mask has become the man. Bollywood depictions of the typical Indian politician as greedy, two-faced rats fits Arun Jaitley appropriately. When he expects Indo-Pak relations to deteriorate once there is a terrorist incident like the Parliament attack, you begin to wonder if the BJP actually prays for more and more terrorist visitations. These people have nothing positive to offer in the form of governance/economic principles, service America's interests shamelessly and depend on social polarization for votes.

from:  Joy
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 12:40 IST

Opportunistic is perhaps a strong word. Based on the leak He appears to be magnanimous and a good statesman. Majority of the commentators here forget that Congress and UPA is nothing but a hard core oppotunistic alliance. In their policicies or lack of it during alliance compulsions they border on notoreity. DMK and ADMK are notoriously opportunistic - throwing largeese such as domestic appliances and concessions to remain in power.

from:  Bhuvee
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 12:13 IST

We want leaders who are strong on their ideology, not those who are comfortable with double speak, and who want their nieces and daughters to get US visas! @Sanjay, agree with you that Sushma Swaraj can be the next big leader for BJP, at least she is strong on ideology.

from:  Sagar
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 11:26 IST

Please give the poor man a break, he is too much in media these days. He should be very well aware of negatives of over-exposure in media. After all his image and politics is based on managing media. Though he may believe himself to be an effective media manager (which is again a image created by media, Bihar's success was due to Nitish ONLY), he is an opportunistic lawyer to say the least. I would rather prefer Sushma Swaraj to be the next big leader for BJP, at least she doesn't mince her words and is seems strong on ideology.

from:  Sanjay
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 09:35 IST

Well, elated to see the cover blown of his 'suave' image. He is just a mouthpiece and a media-showman for BJP! What else can be attributed to a MP who takes a backdoor entry to Parliament through Rajya Sabha. His politics is based on media-management and his eloquence as a so called 'effective' speaker.Rarely has he been seen talking straight, rather laces everything with weird legalities and technicalities. Regarding Hindutva, people are generally aware that it is meant to be a 'lip-service' only and is meant for popular consumption to the core constituency. BJP's dwindling positions on core matters (of their election manifestos) is too well known. And BJP indeed did the ground work for the telecom mess, Can we forget the clamour over Pramod Mahajan's role in telecom era? So, BJP is indeed a 'party with a difference', the difference being their double speaking (India-US Nuclear deal), hypocrisy (Yeddurappa) and its uncanny ability to be confused by 'India-Shining' campaigns! Returning to the issue, leaders like Arun Jaitley are just media creations and lack any popular support and seem more like an MBA from IIPM who try to fool people by using clamor and dubious branding! BJP needs to get more true-leaders (Vajpayee) with strong ideological basis if it seeks to garner confidence of Indian voters in future.

from:  Rikishi
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 09:27 IST

Very sorry to see the present state of Indian Political structure. I am sure Congress will come down hard upon Jaitely's acceptance of baseless and narrow policies of BJP. but soon they would forget that few days back Manmohan Singh himself said that "these cables are non-verifiable".

from:  Mohit Dubey
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 07:14 IST

Hats Off Mr Jaitley! But it was expected from you guys! You say you have so many sisters and nieces in the US so do other politicians. So I believe when you will make this country die, you and all other politicians will run away to foreign countries and leave the poor to die in the hell which you will make India. What a country we are, we will never be able to come out from this caste, region, religion, language. Really if people will come out from this and if our politicians instead of dividing they will start talking of uniting I am sure India will definitely become a prosperous country again.

from:  Anshuman Mor
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 06:11 IST

This is the limit. I mean USA is the superpower but I fail to understand why we hold them in such high regard? Why would Jaitley open so much to a guy who can manipulate the information divulged? Or does he think that by winning over the US he can somehow help BJP win the elections or the seat of PM for him? This is outrageous.

from:  Abhinav Kumar
Posted on: Mar 26, 2011 at 06:05 IST
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