By Saurabh Gandhi
Edited by Anandita Malhotra, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist
Politics is a very difficult terrain. You need to put in a lot of effort to leave a mark on the political landscape. It is only after grinding at the grass root level for many years that you are finally called a state level leader. Unless you have the right connections in Delhi, it is difficult to become a central leader. So, out of the lakhs of people who join politics every year only one or two go on to become pan-Indian leaders whom every citizen can recognize by the face. In this context, it is interesting to note how lesser known political personalities spring to the limelight and all of a sudden, everyone’s talking about them (though not for the reasons they would like). Here, we take a look at a few ‘select’ ones:
- Who? Laxmikant Bajpai
Party: Bharatiya Janata Party.
Post: President, Uttar Pradesh BJP.
Why will he be remembered? Uttar Pradesh is surely turning out to be a political hot potato with almost daily run-ins between the BJP and the ruling Samajwadi Party. Trust our politicians to add some bollywood-style drama to it. Angry with the Moradabad Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Mr. Bajpai said, “Jaise nagin apne dushman ki photo ankhon mein utar leti hai, waise hi humne bhi SSP ki photo apni ankhon mein utar li hai… Ab to dus kar hi dum lenge” (Just as snake memorises the photo of its enemy, we too have memorised the photo of the SSP. We will not rest until we have bitten him),”
As much as it may sound funny now, it raises a serious issue of political hyper-activitism as Mr. Bajpai didn’t just stop with the ‘Nagin’ remark. He went on to add, “Our enmity will last for a long time. We will ensure revenge for the atrocities committed on our party workers by the police chief of Moradabad,”
- Who? Abhijit Mukherjee
Party: Indian National Congress.
Post: Member of Parliament, Jangipur Constituency, West Bengal.
Why will he be remembered? Remember the December 2012 protests against the gruesome atrocities against women in Delhi? When the protestors were braving the police while trying to walk to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to lodge their protests, the son of the occupant of Rashtrapati Bhawan was caught saying this: “What’s basically happening in Delhi is a lot like Egypt or elsewhere, where there’s something called the Pink Revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities. In India, staging candle-lit marches, going to discotheques – we did all this during our student life too, we were students too – I know every well what kind of character students should have. Those who claim to be students – I can see many beautiful women among them – highly dented-painted – they’re giving interviews on TV, they’ve brought their children to show them the scenes. I have grave doubts whether they’re students, because women of that age are generally not students.”
The President’s son later apologized after facing an angry Arnab Goswami (here’s the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mom0pQTM6yE ) but then even now if you Google his name, you find the words ‘dented and painted’ following him. An apology may satisfy your political opponents but what it does is reveal your true mindset.
- Who? Prabhat Jha
Party: Bharatiya Janata Party.
Post: National Vice-President, BJP and Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha.
Why will he be remembered? Mr. Jha is the latest to jump in the bandwagon. When asked why tomato prices were still sky-high in spite of the BJP’s assurances that inflation would come down, he said: “Only those who have red cheeks like tomato eat this priced vegetable.” He went on to explain that rich people are the ones who have red cheeks and hence by corollary, only rich people consume tomatoes. With a populace that is seething with inflation since years, this couldn’t have come at a worse time.
(Quotation Source: http://news.oneindia.in/feature/tomato-comment-modi-must-take-congnisance-loud-mouth-parlia-1492776.html)
- Who? Siddharamaiah
Party: Indian National Congress.
Post: Chief Minister, Karnataka.
Why will he be remembered? Surprisingly, Mr. Siddharamaiah was one of the few Congress leaders whose two year tenure as CM had been non-controversial. However, Mr. Siddharamaiah broke this record by saying this to the media: “Is this the only news you can cover?” Now, this might seem like the regular politician ranting against the media. However, he made this remark when the reporters were questioning him about the rape of a 6 year old girl in a Bangalore school. At a time, when he should be seen as ensuring justice and preventing repeat instances of such incidents, the CM chose to let out his frustration on the media, thereby coming across as insensitive to the issue at hand.
When you look at all these comments and many more such instances of politicians putting their foot in the mouth, you can’t help but wonder what makes them say such ludicrous things. We can get some inkling into the reason behind such utterances if we study them in isolation. Mr. Bajpai was angry with the SSP because of alleged beating up of BJP workers. He therefore targeted the SSP in order to ensure that the BJP workers did not feel isolated after working for the party. However, in the process, he used words like revenge and ended up showing his disrespect towards the law. Mr. Mukherjee’s comment just gives us a glimpse of the mindset which he had when he made the comment. Mr. Jha’s ‘red cheek’ remark may seem funny at first but what he was doing was defending his government. What he forgot, however, was that he could simply have said that the BJP had just been in power for a couple of months and that they were aware of the problems that people faced and were working towards solving them. Politicians forget that voters are intelligent enough to realize that prices can’t come down in a day or rapes can’t be stopped in a day. It is the insensitivity of these remarks and the non-acceptance of the shortcomings by the politicians that turn the voters away from them.A commerce graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, Gandhi is a politics enthusiast. He has been an intern at Youth-Ki-Awaaz and has a keen interest in current affairs. Innovation in India’s education system and gender equality are issues which are very close to his heart. When not following news, he is either reading or crossing movies off his “To see list”. A self confessed social media addict, Gandhi can be reached on Twitter @saurabhgandhi92. Call him mad and he will love you for the rest of your life.