A Kautilya in the BJPhttps://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/subramanian-swamy-arvind-subramanian-raghuram-rajan-arun-jaitley-2886521/

A Kautilya in the BJP

Why Subramanian Swamy’s real target is not Raghuram Rajan or Arvind Subramanian.

Subramanian Swamy, Arvind Subramanian, Raghuram Rajan, arun jaitley, RBI, RBI governor, news, india news, politics, BJP
There are a number of people who matter in the party who supported Swamy’s candidature for the Rajya Sabha berth. Modi could not overrule his candidature. (Illustration: C R Sasikumar)

Subramanian Swamy has been attempting to create major problems for the BJP government — more particularly for Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. This is clear in the way he went after Raghuram Rajan, governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian and other officials in the finance ministry. Not just this. Ever since Modi came to power, every now and then, he does something or speaks loosely on sensitive, communal issues. He organised a seminar in Delhi University, for instance, on the need for building a Ram temple, knowing well that the issue is in the Supreme Court. Though he has never been popular in UP’s political circles, unlike other loose cannons like Sakshi Maharaj, Swamy has been visiting that state, sponsoring small meetings by himself.

He is known for public litigation that does not benefit the rural masses, tribals or Dalits but goes after individuals and political opponents, whom he targets as enemies. He got some credibility after J. Jayalalithaa was imprisoned after he pursued her through a case supported by the DMK. Recently, he filed a case against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, in relation to National Herald assets. The RSS and the BJP supported this case, more with childish interest than political maturity.

Swamy lost his job at Harvard after writing a newspaper article against Islam in general and Muslims in particular on July 2011, titled “How to wipe out Islamic terror”. Dismissing him from service, the university’s Department of South Asian Studies described Swamy as “insidious” and head of the “minuscule” Janata Party. By admitting him into the party, the BJP, with one stroke, effectively changed the status of his party from minuscule to “majoritarian”.

Now the prime minister has put him in a spot by saying that “publicity stunts” won’t benefit the nation. The PM must know that Swamy is not just a publicity stunt master, but a witch hunter working against him from within his own camp for reasons that his party hesitates to tell.


The PM must ask why Swamy has been bringing issues to the forefront that do not have any connection to promises he made to the nation in his election campaign. The mandate given to Modi was for development. Swamy did not help Modi in getting even five votes. Even then, the party headed by Modi, who has a vote base of his own, considers Swamy a man “bigger than the system”. Where does this “bigness” of Swamy come from?

Knowing Swamy, how did Modi allow him to become a member of Rajya Sabha? The nation knows from day one that Swamy would start embarrassing the government in Rajya Sabha. Where does his gumption come from? From Mohan Bhagwat, obviously. What distinguished achievements carried Swamy into Rajya Sabha through the quota for nominated MPs? Why did the RSS support him? And, if he was a Dalit or OBC, would they have supported him still? There is no such evidence before us.

Swamy was active in the political field when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was in power. And when P.V. Narasimha Rao was in government. During Rao’s rule, the BJP and RSS took up the campaign that led to the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Swamy was not a very active supporter of the campaign at that time because, apparently, his sympathies were with Rao, then India’s PM. During this period, remember, buying votes for sustaining the government took place quite brazenly. Shibu Soren was caught, allegedly red-handed, taking money to vote for the survival of the Rao government. Yet Swamy did not file a single PIL against Rao. During Vajpayee’s period, he did not get any major position, yet, by all accounts, he was loyal to him. Why? Swamy’s Brahminism is more insidious than that of Kautilya, the author of Arthashastra, or Manu, the author of Dharmashastra.

Swamy is not a great writer but the Brahminical media considers him an intellectual. Even Modi is made to treat him as a big man because of the dual support he gets — from Mohan Bhagwat’s network and the media. Look at the way whatever he speaks gets front page coverage. Why? Because the media thinks even loose cannons are useful if they go against some forces.

Why did Swamy target Jayalalithaa and Sonia Gandhi? As one belonging to the Kautilyan tradition, he must fight the Dalit-Bahujan and women. In his own state, one party is headed by a lower caste rationalist and the other by a woman — though a Brahmin. His hatred for Sonia Gandhi is for more Manuwadi reasons than one. She is an Italian by birth and a born Christian.

But his real target is Modi. I do not think he is a loner in this plan within the party. There are a number of people who matter in the party who supported Swamy’s candidature for the Rajya Sabha berth. Modi could not overrule his candidature. The anti-Modi clique from within the party uses Swamy well and the media keeps telling us that he is an individual loose cannon.

In my view, Swamy is the public face of the Kautilyan faction of his own party. This faction has been upset ever since Modi claimed that he was an OBC during the election campaign in Uttar Pradesh after realising that that factor would get him more votes. That identity has helped him. The Swamy faction of the BJP is determined that he should pay for that. Hence his real target is neither Rajan nor Subramanian. By no stretch of the imagination can one think that they are his enemies.

Modi has not come to power because the Brahminical faction negotiated with other parties in a situation of a fractured mandate. If it were so, by now he would have been pulled down. He has come up through his vote pulling ability, of which his caste background was one of the instruments. The Manuwadis in the RSS do not like that. Hence the pot must be kept boiling.

There are many issues on which I do not agree with Modi and I have written about them ever since the Gujarat 2002 carnage took place. But if the Kautilyan-Manuwadi-Swamy faction succeeds in overthrowing Modi, no OBC could rise to the PM’s chair, whatever his vote-catching power.