Thursday, June 09, 2005

Two Rights make an....alliance?

Those of you who have been following Indian politics know the big hue-and-cry raised by the right-wing leader L.K. Advani's remarks in Pakistan praising Muhammad Ali Jinnah -- the prime mover behind the Indian partition and father of independent Pakistan -- as "secular". (An early story on his remarks can be found here.) It's possible that Advani was merely being diplomatic and didn't really believe what he said. It's also possible that Jinnah was really a secularist at heart and his fight for Pakistan was a political game in religious clothing.

But the most interesting theory is that, by calling Jinnah secular, Advani has redefined the word enough to call himself secular as well! If I tell you that the other extreme right is really a centrist philosophy, then I must be centrist as well. No? Curiously, Advani's party is, I think, being short-sighted in its vitriolic reaction to his remarks (mostly fueled by silly delusions of a "united India") instead of embracing them as the canny political move they are.

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