Some people are getting swayed by the following blog post written by that obscure Belgian ex-priest, Koenraad Elst:
Pompously titling his piffle as “Guha vs Elst”, as if he is the equal of that intellectual giant, Ramachandra Guha, Elst levels a series of base and vulgar allegations at the door of the celebrated Padma Bhushan awardee. The most serious of these allegations is the startling claim that Guha wrote about him in, of all places, the pro-Communist journal The Hindu.
Two points are worth bearing in mind when pondering over these dubious and mischievous claims.
Point #1. Who is Guha and who is Elst? Guha is a widely known historian. He is a regular on Rajdeep Sardesai’s CNN-IBN channel (where Sagarika Ghose is also a regular, but that is beside the point). The Congress-led government of India honored him with a Padma Bhushan. His name appears in newspapers not only as a byline but also in news. Elst, on the other hand, is an obscure Belgian ex-priest, who (so the rumor goes) was fired from the priesthood of Antwerp’s Sidhi Vinayaka temple for barring European untouchables from entering the temple. In other words, a failed Hindu fundamentalist. Why on earth would Guha write about Elst?
Point #2. And then the canard that Guha wrote about Elst in The Hindu, whose editor is the founder of CPIM’s student body, and also goes on chaperoned trips to Tibet to declare it a socialist paradise on earth. The insinuation that Guha would associate himself with such a fanatical Marxist publication is beneath contempt. Let us make this clear: Guha is not a leftwinger. He counts among his friends IT czars and corporate honchos. He is an Independent. The best proof of his independence is available in the statement he issued right after he was awarded Padma Bhushan, in which he said something to the effect that the award honors not himself but the tradition of Objective History-Writing in India. With that statement, he silenced nasty critics who insinuated that he got the award for writing stuff that the Establishment would approve. Why then would such a man publish anything about a non-entity of an ex-priest in an “ideological document”, as was The Hindu called by its prolific letters-to-the-editor writers?
If you are not still convinced about Guha’s independence, consider this other piece of evidence. He labeled Arundhati Roy the “Arun Shourie of the Left”. This left Roy’s fans fuming, for they considered it blasphemy that a liberal like herself should be compared to a hidebound conservative like Shourie. Shourie’s admirers, on the other hand, wondered if the grey matter in Guha’s head was in short supply, for, they contended, how could he compare a man who argues on the basis of reason and evidence to a lady who swims and floats in a sea of rhetoric. If you can anger both the Left and the Right, surely, you are an Independent?
To add insult to injury, the ex-priest calls the independent intellectual a liar.
Like many other Indian intellectuals, Guha is man of impeccable integrity. He is not going to take being called a liar lying down. He believes in the power of ideas, not in the power of his media pals to help him tide over embarrassment. He is not going to take refuge in his CNN-IBN celebrity-hood. He is not going to pretend that a Padma Bhushan-ee like himself need not respond to an obscure ex-priest.
Watch out folks, Guha is going to answer Elst. He will either apologize, or prove Elst wrong. All you laughing rightwingers will have egg on your face.