By Pradyot Lal
NEW DELHI: All those who have known him, read him and also respected his intellect are dumbfounded by the sheer degree of transformation that has seized the redoubtable gentleman, and that too, virtually overnight.
Not for nothing have acres of precious newsprint in recent days been discounted by one man’s subjective choice: Author- journalist M J Akbar’s decision to embrace saffron, and with it the man who he once recommended for being anointed with Nishan-e- Pakistan. While this may count as the swiftest professional harakiri in living memory, the fact of the matter is that pathological hatred for one individual in the Congress has contributed to his accepting another individual whose polarising zeal he consistently warned against, and no matter what he says now, the transition is most baffling.
And what he has had to say in terms of self-defence has made things only worse. The longish piece in a financial daily about things such as the need to join a “recovery mission” for the country smacks of something which its author has always opposed: intellectual insincerity and dishonesty. The ‘recovery mission’ that is being talked about is being undertaken by someone whose credentials in the eyes of many in the country remain highly dubious, and do not necessarily imply joining the same gentleman who has to this day not said a word in contrition for what happened under his jurisdiction in 2002.
If what the author-journalist says in the newspaper article is all that there was to his taking the decision, then one seriously doubts the man’s sincerity of purpose which went into making up his mind on such an important issue. Great editors of yore may have had their political predilections but that did not lead them to making the kind of partisan compromises that this one decision implies.
In the event, what does one make of all the tomes and volumes that the author-journalist authored on Nehru and Kashmir, history and politics? Should one say that riot after riot, the siege within him will consume his undoubted panache and painstaking scholarship, now that he has taken the fateful step? It is obvious that the saffron brigade is unlikely to change its character to allow even a whiff of pluralism and liberalism to inform its exertions.
And no matter what his latter-day apologists may say, Narendra Modi is unlikely to change one bit if he is charged with the responsibility of being the prime minister of the country. If one of India’s greatest ever editors has had no compunction in joining the ranks of being a Modi apologist, what else can one say except wishing him all the very best! (Courtesy Sahara Samay)