By Sakhi Nair
Edited by Liz Maria Kuriakose, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
Winston Churchill once said that if the British ever left India, it would be ruled by goons. Usually when I would hear this statement, I would leave no opportunity to express what abhorrence it filled me with. I always considered that remark impertinent and pompous. But now, given the current state of affairs, I often question myself – was he right after all?
It’s not unusual for one to hear about the gunda raj in the badlands of various states in North India, and neither to hear hate speeches from a Trinamool member, a la Arup Chakraborty, Anubrata Mandal, Manirul Islam and more recently, Tapas Pal. Tapas Pal, a Trinamool Congress MP and actor made a flaming remark and threatened to “destroy” CPI (M) members and their extended family and send his boys to rape their women. He also proclaimed that he’s been a hoodlum himself, walking around with “maal”, referring to a gun, in his pocket, threatening to personally shoot CPM supporters. He made his statement expressing his protectiveness towards his party, saying that he would destroy any CPM worker if they touched his party workers. However, this gunda raj is not justified. We are living in a democracy where we have the right of freedom of expression, but such seething remarks will only cause tension and antagonism, which is against our principles. And yet, after all these years, hooliganism in politics still prevails, and quite disturbingly, has no shortage of support from a large group of people. Pal also went on to say that he would have the last word in the area and that even the police would not dare defy him.
Tapas Pal’s remarks garnered disfavour from his own party members and flak from opponents. His wife apologized for his comments, but also said that they were taken out of context. His party condemned his statement and Derek O’ Brien deemed his statements insensitive. Other MPs of Didi in the past have made similar threats of cutting people down, “bombing” the police and beheading opposition leaders, and have been let off with mere apologies. A director went on to express her disbelief and say that politics has changed the nature of the “sweet” actor. Is it that politics makes you harsh? Are hate speeches an inextricable part of Indian politics? Is gunda raj always going to be present amidst support from a significant percentage of voters? A popular actor, a Filmfare award winner, with a reputation tarnished due to heinous comments made after a foray into the dirty world of Indian politics raises these unexplainable questions. Politicians like Tapas Pal should not be let off easily; they should be met with a punishment that would prevent people like him from sowing the seeds of hatred and fear.
In the Land of Contrasts, it is important that we do not create redundant tension and take care that our sentiments do not hurt those of others’. If we say Winston Churchill was wrong, it would be a statement made out of blind patriotism and ignorance because however unsettling it may sound; indeed it proves to be true!
Sakhi is a 12th grade student planning to pursue Mass Communication. She is a keen observer of everything that her eyes can see and never leaves herself out of a stimulating conversation. She considers the freedom of expression to be the fourth necessity of life and believes the world could be a better place if we could just listen. Her interests include photography, music and satire. You can wade through her musings at http://www.neuroticpeanuts.blogspot.com.