Saturday, September 1, 2012



During my long years with the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW), I had , inter alia, handled the external aspects of the tribal insurgency in the North-East, the Khalistani terrorism, the Jihadi terrorism and the external aspects of the physical security of the Prime Minister of India.

2. In June 1985,Rajiv Gandhi undertook his first  travel abroad as the Prime Minister of India. He visited France, Algeria, the USA and Switzerland. He went back to India and came out again in October to visit the then USSR and Holland.

3.His June visits coincided with the first anniversary of Operation Blue Star in the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Khalistani elements based in Pakistan, West Europe and the US took a vow to have him assassinated before he returned to India. I was asked to help the SPG, which is responsible for the protection of the Prime Minister, during his visits to France, Switzerland and Holland.

4. That was the first time I came into contact with Rajiv, Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka. Rahul and Priyanka were young kids at that time. I had an opportunity of interacting with the kids, particularly in Paris. I have not met them after October,1985, but have maintained a distant interest in their welfare and progress in life.

5.I have been worried, like many of our fellow-citizens, over the declining and depressing state of affairs in the country. I have written a number of articles critical of the way Prime Minister Dr.Manmohan Singh has been handling the situation. Some of the articles were mildly critical, some very hard-hitting. I had also suggested that the time had come for the Congress to go for mid-term elections to remove the political gloom.

6. I believed that Shri Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, was the man for the occasion and it was time for him to enter the political arena and take over as the PM after winning the elections. Between 2000 and till recently, I was a strong supporter of the BJP, the RSS and Modi.

7. Last year, I started visiting the Twitter site regularly  in the hope of keeping myself in touch with what was being discussed in the Twitter world. That was the beginning of my interactions with the online followers of Modi. I was shocked by their uncouth manners, foul language and extremist mind-set. Whenever I tweeted anything positive about Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka, the followers of Namo came down on me like a ton of bricks and subjected me to vile abuse.

8. I was called an old man who had become senile and developed Alzheimer’s disease. It was claimed that my cancer had spread to my brain etc. By nature, I am a pleasant and polite person. I was shocked by the kind of language used and threats uttered by the online followers of NaMo. Twice I quit Twitter in disgust and then I came back because of my curiosity.

9. I wrote articles drawing attention to the Stormtrooper like methods of the online followers of NaMo and the kind of abuse and character assassination being directed at me. I sincerely believed NaMo was not aware of the obnoxious behaviour of his online followers. I wrote and tweeted a number of times suggesting that he should openly condemn their methods and dissociate himself from them. There was no response. I couldn’t help believing that his followers were indulging in such methods with his knowledge and approval. That was the beginning of my disillusionment with NaMo. My writings and Tweets became increasingly critical of of NaMo’s followers whom I started calling the NaMo Brigade and NaMo himself.

10. That was also the time when I started taking fresh interest in the personalities, policies and activities of the Congress. I did have hopes that Rahul could turn around matters, but my hopes were belied. I started thinking that the time had come for Priyanka to enter the political scene to set matters right with the support of the GenNext of the party. Rahul had not been able to enthuse the younger elements in the party and the country. It was important that Priyanka tried her hand at this.

11. In the beginning of June, I wrote my first article suggesting that Sonia should induct Priyanka into active politics. I was surprised by the initial condemnation of my articles by friends and foes alike. The NaMo Brigade stepped up its attacks on me. I was insulted. I was ridiculed. My sanity was called into question. I decided to go into a mode of watching silence.

12.To my surprise, after about three weeks, others too started discussing Priyanka as a possible political aspirant--- Shri Virendra Kapoor in Rediff, the Sunday Guardian and some other columnists and papers. Last week, NDTV had a series of political discussions on the likelihood of a mid-term poll. One of the questions polled and debated was the chances of Priyanka.

13. I drew the attention of my Twitter followers to this and tweeted once again why I had suggested the name of Priyanka.I tweeted in two consecutive tweets:  “As yesterday's developments in Gujarat show, NaMo will not be able to shake off his dark shadow. Namo is darkness at noon. Priyanka is brightness at night.” My reference was to the shadow over NaMo after the conviction of 31 of the accused in the  Naroda Patiya case of massacre of over 90 Muslims by a mob egged on by some Hindutva Top Guns. My allusion was  to Arthur Koestler’s novel of the last century based on life under Stalin. I was buried in an avalanche of abusive tweets from NaMo’s followers. Some of them even accused me of giving a powerful political slogan to the Congress for the next elections.

14.A couple of days later, one of my followers drew my attention to a defamatory, calumnious blog post twisting the meaning of my Tweets. The post deleted my reference to the conviction of the accused in the Naroda Pitiya massacre case and carried only my characterisations of NaMo as Darkness and Priyanka as Brightness. The post alleged that this old man used to send love Tweets to Barkha Dutt of NDTV, now he has started sending love Tweets to Priyanka.

15.His rage over my suggesting Priyanka as a possible future leader was obvious, but he was unable to counter me logically. So he indulged in character assassination.I have not come across a more sickening mind. It was the reaction of the lowliest of the lowlies.

16.Previously,whenever I used to protest online against the abuses and character assassination directed against me by NaMo’s supporters, my well-wishers in the BJP and the RSS used to ask me to ignore them. They used to claim these were not well-educated people capable of politeness.

17.But the man who has attacked my personal honour and projected me as a decrepit old man with a hunger for attractive women is not an uneducated person. I understand he is a graduate of one of the prestigious IITs of India. After having lived in Mumbai for some years, he is now reportedly based in the US and has allegedly been co-ordinating the online Blitzkrieg of NaMo from his safe sanctuary in the US.

18. If this is the kind of people who are the brains of the NaMo For PM campaign, would it be in the interest of the country for NaMo to become the PM? Everyman is known by the company he keeps. This is the kind of company NaMo keeps.( 2-9-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)





The conviction of 31 of the accused  in the Naroda Patiya massacre case of Gujarat by a special fast track court has to be welcomed for two reasons despite the fact that the case has not yet reached its logical conclusion with all avenues for appeal exhausted. Ninety-six people, mainly Muslims, were massacred by the accused during the communal conflagration of 2002 in Gujarat. The convicted have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment.

2. The fact that some prominent Hindutva personalities of the Gujarat unit of the BJP were among those convicted would indicate the high-level of involvement of BJP personalities in the instigation, if not the commission of the massacre.

3. The conviction and heavy sentencing have to be welcomed by all right-thinking persons because the case  clearly shows that the rule of law ultimately prevails in the country and that the courts will not tolerate massacres of members of the religious minorities by the religious majority.

4. The second reason for welcoming  it is that it will send a reassuring  message to the minorities that the law of the land makes no distinction between the religious majority and minorities while dealing with wrong-doings of a heinous nature.

5. I have pointed in many of my writings since the Indian Mujahideen (IM) made its appearance in 2007 that some of the Muslim youth belonging to the IM claimed to have been driven to jihadi terrorism by what they perceived as the unfair criminal justice system towards the Muslims. Hopefully, the Naroda Patiya judgement will transmit a clear message to the Muslim youth of the country that our criminal justice system is not prejudiced against them. More such judgements will help the Police in de-alienating the Muslim youth.

6. From what I have read in the media, there is no credible evidence to show any complicity of sections of the Shri Narendra Modi administration in the massacre. There might have been individual instances of  negligence and reluctance to act firmly because of the involvement of some Hindutva leaders, but from this, one cannot allege any complicity of the Modi administration.

7. Shri Modi continues to be immensely popular among the Hindus of Gujarat and the Gujarati youth because of his contribution to economic development without large-scale corruption and improvement of governance. One has to concede that Gujarat remain the best administered State in India today. Shri Modi is bound to reap the benefits of his record in the elections to the State Assembly due towards the end of this year.

8.But the details of the massacre of Muslims as they came out from the trial, the involvement of some Hindutva top-guns in the massacre and the fact that the massacre took place under Shri Modi’s watch are bound to add to the feelings of disquiet about Shri Modi’s acceptability as a pan-Indian and all-communities leader in other parts of India where emotional attachment to Shri Modi does not play the same role as in Gujarat. Many people in other parts of India admire his record as an administrator and concede his remarkable contribution to the economic progress of his State. At the same time, they are reluctant to accept him as a national leader. How uncertain will be his pan-Indian acceptability became evident from some of the reservations expressed recently by Shri Nitish Kumar, the Chief Minister of Bihar.

9.The style of the online blitzkrieg adopted by his die-hard followers in India and abroad reminiscent of the methods of the Nazi stormtroopers, continues to add to the disquiet. I have been drawing attention to these Storm-troopers and their obnoxious methods marked by abuse, invectives and intimidation since last year. I have been repeatedly pointing out that these Stormtroopers, claiming to act on behalf of Shri Modi, have been doing a tremendous disservice to his future and may come in the way of the wider acceptance sought by him. I have repeatedly urged that he should openly dissociate himself from them and condemn their methods. He has not done so thereby giving rise to an unfortunate suspicion that he may be politically benefitting from them.

10. The echoes of the court judgement and the reverberations of the intimidatory and grossly abusive methods of the Stormtroopers will be felt increasingly across the democratic societies of the West. Shri Modi might have been welcomed in South-East Asian societies, but in the western societies the question marks over his head will remain despite the recognition by sections of the Western media of his undoubted administrative acumen and economic management.

11. Shri Modi has every right to aspire to be the next Prime Minister of India, but his acceptability will not improve unless he rids himself of the support of the online Stormtrooper elements. Till he does so, he will remain quarantined in Gujarat. ( 1-9-12)

(The  writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail:  Twitter @SORBONNE75)