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Shourie falls back on Gandhi in times of crisis
Published on 26 Aug. 2009 11:12 PM IST
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Only when you are in public life do you get to wrestle with your soul, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Shourie, in the eye of a raging political storm for his criticism of the party and its leadership, said while quoting Mahatma Gandhi. “Each new solution leads to a new conundrum. Only when you are in public life do you get an opportunity to wrestle with your soul,” Shourie said Tuesday evening, quoting Mahatma Gandhi by whom he had been “deeply inspired”. The MP appeared unfazed by the controversy he had triggered by referring to the BJP and its leadership as a “kati patang” and “Alice in Blunderland”. The BJP has sought a clarification from him for his attack on the party in a television interview and in newspaper articles. “I don’t want to speak about the political controversy. I will settle it with my party. I will need permission from my party to talk about it,” Shourie said when queried. Instead, he spoke about the Mahabharata and “how difficult it was being good in times such as these”. Shourie, who addressed a packed crowd of writers, scholars and book lovers at the American Centre, dwelt on the importance and relevance of Mahabharata and Mahatma Gandhi in “today’s life and politics” at the launch of political commentator and author Gurcharan Das’s new book, “The Difficulty of Being Good: The Subtle Art of Dharma”. “We have to sensitise ourselves to seek a higher goal. Great men like Ram Krishna Paramhans, Raman Maharishi and Mahatma Gandhi had heightened their sensitivities to such an extent that it was difficult to lie in front of them or practise adharma,” Shourie said. “I read Gurcharan’s book at a pace a somewhat slower than most people read Jaswant Singh’s book (on Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah that led to the expulsion of the BJP leader). “It prods us to think about the perennial question that the book raises and posits the question what is good. The biggest difficulty in being good is the fact what is good differs under particular circumstances,” he said with a hint of “sarcasm and cynicism” alluding to the political developments. “When you deploy strategy, you must deploy it for a higher purpose as Sri Krishna told Arjuna in Mahabharata.” The launch, which was followed by a discussion on The Difficulty in Being Good, was also attended by Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and writer William Dalrymple. “I reinvented Mahabharata 20 years ago to tell the political story of India from Independence to globalisation in my book ‘The Great Indian Novel’. The dynamics, discussions and aspects of the book relate themselves to the challenges of present. It offers a choices between different set of rights, wrong and good and shows us the way in the age of uncertainties we live,” Tharoor said. “One can always free one from the chains of Hindutva and remain a liberal Hindu -- using Mahabharata as a guide book for dharma,” he added. Shourie, however, refused to respond to Tharoor’s bait over the brand of Hindutva propagated by the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

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