Noted editor and author MJ Akbar joined the BJP on Saturday. The party's high-profile acquisition is no stranger to politics. He breathed politics when he was a journalist. And partook of it when he was elected Congress MP from Kishanganj in Bihar in 1989.
So, you have switched from the Congress to the BJP? dna asked the author of Riot After Riot and several other books.
"For god's sake that was 22 years ago. I have been asked this question again and again today."
Well, like they say, the past cannot be buried. Akbar was close to Rajiv Gandhi, enough to be called "friend". To that Akbar says, it was time to move on.
The "move", when it came, was towards the BJP.
Was it spontaneous, thought last night, acted upon this morning?
"One has to talk to oneself before talking to others (in his case, BJP stalwarts) convince oneself and then take the decision," says Akbar.
Some time in the last few weeks or months, Akbar took the decision to take the plunge. Will he contest the elections?
"I am an ordinary BJP member like countless others. That decision is not mine. Yes, if I am told to, I'll," says the former editorial director of India Today.
And it's the state of India today that compelled him to join the BJP. "I said I am joining BJP for policies and principles, and to work to bring the nation into recovery mission. We're in an economic crisis, which has sucked the oxygen of hope from all of us. We can't sit back and wander around for the fog to clear," says Akbar.
Not surprisingly, Akbar sees more than hope in Narendra Modi. "What did he say? That we must build a 100 cities. Now, that's a visionary talking. Whoever stopped anyone from building a 100 cities all these years? Two, what he said about Hindu-Muslim relations?"
On August 15, he said his only religion was the Constitution of India. Then in Patna, when the blasts came one after the other, that was a moment of crisis, when only instinct comes to the fore. At that time, he asked the Hindus: "Do you want to fight Muslims or do you want to fight poverty?"
Look at the clarity of the message there.
As for whether the BJP is secular or not, Akbar says "the world has changed, the country has changed, nothing can be extremely static. There's dynamics in politics, too. There are secular people in every party."
See the clarity of the message, there. As of Saturday, there's at least one secular leader in the BJP — MJ Akbar!