Monday, 24 August 2009
I can’t say that I ever fully understood Mr Kulkarni. I have always found his columns and other public utterances abstruse and rather dense, thereby finding it difficult to get a handle on his political philosophy. A rare exception to this general rule was Kulkarni’s open letter to Advani that argued for a recasting of RSS-BJP relations in the aftermath of the original Jinnah controversy. Essentially, Mr Kulkarni wanted to free up the party from micromanagement by Sangh interlopers – an admirable sentiment. His abstruseness apart, Mr Kulkarni emerges as a thinking man who represented a sober nationalism that attracted many to the party in the first place.
Kulkarni is not by any stretch a political figure of comparable national prominence to Jaswant Singh. His departure though is at least as disturbing because it represents the growing flight of intellectual capital away from the party. The cerebral right-wing talent the BJP managed to attract in the NDA years that made it the natural party of governance is being gradually weeded out. Arun Shourie, a modern day polymath is a virtual pariah, Yashwant Sinha has quit all party posts and the Jaswant Singh brouhaha is still playing out. It does seem that the party is turning to a certain atavism after the defeat. Swapan Dasgupta has argued that the once broad church of the Bharatiya Janata Party – accommodating strident Hindu assertion with centre-right nationalism – is turning into a sect with the former emerging as the overriding paradigm. Perhaps then, it is time for the urban Indian with his newfound cosmopolitanism to resurrect that ill-fated nexus of Parsi free thinkers, conventional nationalism and free enterprise – the Swatantra Party.
Update: One of Sudheendra Kulkarni's more readable pieces here