13 Oct, 2015
Images of Sudheendra Kulkarni, his face and body blackened by the ink flung at him by protesters, are now being flashed all over the world. As the protest was over Kulkarni’s willingness to help a former Pakistan foreign minister launch a memoir, the message that has gone out is this: How can there ever be peace between Pakistan and India when there are extremist groups within India that are bitterly opposed to any contact — let alone the peace process — with Pakistan?
This tears a gaping hole in the Indian messaging — carefully caliberated over the years — that India wants peace but that the Pakistani regime is in the grip of extremists, fundamentalists and terrorists. What makes it worse is that, till recently, Kulkarni was a pillar of the BJP establishment. He was a senior member of the Vajpayee PMO and an adviser to LK Advani. Worse still, the people who doused him in ink were not extremists from some little-known fringe organisation. The Shiv Sena is the BJP’s ally and a part of the Maharashtra government, the same government that is supposed to protect citizens against such attacks.