Why is the Babu not surprised? Sir Vidia’s in the headlines for endorsing the BJP. This is the man who thinks that Babur’s invasion caused a deep wound from which the country never recovered; the man who got the history of the Vijayanagara Empire wrong; the man who refused to speak out against the Gujarat riots; the man who said that he accepted the Deputy PM’s personal assurance that Gujarat would never happen again; the man who has such a contempt for Indians that he can say “But Indians are not interested in the history”.

He accepted an award from the RSS last year; this year it’s a shawl. Unfortunately he’s a foreigner and you know how the BJP feels about that, or I’d have assumed that next up was either a Rajya Sabha seat or a Padma Bhushan. Naipaul’s response to his critics has always been to admonish them to read his books. Perhaps they should, more closely, because along with that measured, crisp prose is the anti-Islamic bigotry and the near-Brahminical obsession with ritual purity.

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