Dear Narendrabhai

Sep 02 2013, 15:10 IST
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SummaryYou want a Bengali speaking Af-Pak or a liberal, secular Bangladesh? You can decide now

Why am I not addressing this appeal to adarniya Advaniji or my old friend Sushma first? Or to dear Rajnathji or Arun (Jaitley), even though I might have known all four of them more closely than you, mostly because we all live in New Delhi? It is because, in their current mood, the first two are unlikely to give anybody a hearing on any thought that is remotely conciliatory. And the last two have tried, are trying, but sometimes seem like giving up. Which is scary for India’s supreme national interest. That is why you, Narendrabhai, need to weigh in.

Because moments like these arrive only once in decades in a nation’s history. And if we lose them, irrespective of whether our politics is broken at the inter-party level or, in this specific case, most regrettably, at the intra-party level, our future generations will not forgive us. Your intervention is needed because the matter rests within your party, and is caught within its messy, but utterly transparent, internal power tussle. Your party has messed up much virtuous, reformist legislation already, it has failed to live up to your own expectations on the food bill — in fact, Murli Manohar Joshi’s speech on this in the Lok Sabha sounded like he had borrowed a pamphlet from the NAC, or Arundhati Roy had ghosted it. And if it now loses India this great opportunity, despite total political and strategic convergence, you will look a lesser leader within your party and, more importantly, on the national stage.

That long, somewhat rhetorical, preamble was necessary. Because the issue — and the country it refers to, Bangladesh — is a red rag to your party and the RSS, who see it as the Pakistan on our eastern borders. But here is an opportunity to change the story and the history with Bangladesh. Not one senior leader of your party has, as yet, produced an argument against the land boundary agreement that India and Bangladesh have signed and which now awaits ratification through a constitutional amendment. On several occasions, your party president, Rajnath Singh, has very sagaciously stated that his party supports the agreement. Yet, it hasn’t been able to vote for it because of last-minute objections. The opposition of the BJP’s Assam unit etc are just convenient excuses. The issue is caught in the strife within the BJP.

We need to understand two key issues here. One,

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