Journalist Swati Charturvedi interviewed one of Modi government’s most trolled critics — former union minister and party leader Arun Shourie for her book ‘I Am a Troll: Inside the Secret World of the BJP’s Digital Army’. Excerpts of the interview, which was conducted in the summer of 2016, were released Thursday in news portal The Wire. A former supporter of the prime minister, Shourie calls campaigning for Modi one of the “biggest mistakes” of his life. Before this interview, Shourie, in another interview, had criticised PM Modi of running a one-man “Presidential government” and called his two years of governance “a great opportunity completely missed”. In the interview with Chaturvedi, he calls out Modi for the “Indirafication” of BJP and for espousing the values of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Here are some quotes from the released excerpts:
On the Narendra Modi government
It’s a decentralised emergency. What we are going towards is a pyramidal decentralised mafia state, where local goons will belabour anyone whom they think is doing something wrong. The central people will look the other way. The central people will provide a rationale for the goondas at the local level … It’s not love for the cow but just an instrument for domination.
Indira vs Modi
The one big difference is at that time Mrs [Indira] Gandhi still used the law. Now it is not the law. These people are acting outside the law. These people are acting outside the law. This is true fascism because you say what is the law? I am the law. All this action is being done outside the government, worse, things are being done inside the government to choke the existing laws
On Modi’s response to controversies spurred by BJP leaders
A statement is made, an incident is created. A campaign is launched. He remains silent. Everybody says, baba please speak, begs him to speak. No. When the campaign has been milked or that abuse has been milked for what it can yield, then at last, three months later, he makes some ambiguous statement. Like motherhood is good. We should all respect our mothers.
On Raghuram Rajan’s resignation
After the RBI governor has been thrown out, this gives very important signals. First, it’s a favour to those corporate houses. Second, it gives a very important [signal] that if you don’t do our bidding and are not seen to be doing our bidding, you are out. Third, it’s a signal that professionals are not welcome in this set up and then, the most important, that no institution will be autonomous. The so called Gujarat model is exactly this. One man, nobody else. One man going to any extreme. The man not even realising that drama is not achievement.
Modi and Shah are every day espousing RSS values, these are their values. This is the RSS in power. It is foolish to put it on a pedestal. Look at the chaps who have been put in institutions. That’s the long-term consequence … All this talk over the country is only to justify this takeover. The takeover is also not of some great historic mission but to ensure government cars, to sit in government offices. This is the level of ambition of the deprived! The oppressed who has been cast out, his aspiration is to be like the oppressor.