FOR GOD’S SAKE. It appears to me that politicians such as Pramod Muthalik are out of sync with the populace with their medieval ideologies.

The other day Sri Lanka thrashed Netherlands in a World Cup T20 match that ended much before the scheduled time. Having nothing else to do I tuned in to my favourite channel, ‘Times Now.’ That was when I caught up with the tragi-comedy show of a politician, Pramod Muthalik of the party, ‘Sri Rama Sene.’ For those of you who haven’t heard of him, he is the self-proclaimed moral brigade leader and a self-anointed custodian of ‘Hindu religion’ from Karnataka. I don’t blame you, if you think that I am not making any sense here. Perhaps I must begin by listing his major achievements. I am afraid it has to start and end with the infamous attack on young girls and boys of about my grandchildren’s age in a Mangalore pub by his goons in January 2009. Their crime, according to Muthalik, enjoying a few private moments with friends in a pub, a supposedly degenerated culture imbibed from the western world and that which essentially brought a bad name and reputation to our religion. His hand-picked rowdies attacked hapless young girls in full view of cameras. Some of the girls needed hospitalisation for injuries. It was nauseating and outrageous to say the least. The pictures haunted me throughout the night. Pramod Muthalik was subsequently charged and arrested for serious charges under various sections of Indian Penal Code.

And so backed by those outstanding credentials, the saviour of Hindu religion, Pramod Muthalik rose again in 2014 like a phoenix, and was inducted into BJP on Sunday for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Then somehow in a matter of five hours, good sense prevailed in the party’s top brass and he was unceremoniously shunted out of the party. Muthalik was crestfallen.

‘What crime did I commit?’ He asked like an innocent kindergarten student.

This is the background story to the show on ‘News Hour’ on Monday. A reporter asked a sulking Muthalik, if he regretted the pub attack on young boys and girls and for being the primary reason for his ouster from the party on the present day. Muthalik began on a sedate note saying that it was just a minor incident five years ago and got aggressive, “it is being maliciously played up by media to be a big thing and especially ‘Times Now’ which is in the forefront, spearheading the smear campaign against me.”

To be fair, Muthalik isn’t articulate in either English or Hindi, other than in his mother tongue Kannada. The above mentioned statement was conveyed in broken words of all languages and mainly by threatening gestures.

At this point his party workers who looked no more than ‘Thugs’ that invariably appear standing around the main villain of any Indian film, intercede and pass on their wisdom to their cornered leader, “Boss, this is why we didn’t want you to give an interview to this news channel!” The Boss relents and backtracks quickly. As if on cue a burly muscleman jumped to his rescue and confronted the reporter and justified the attack of 2009 in a tone and dialect that had never been heard on our shores. It appeared to be Hindi at the beginning that soon slipped into Kannada and returned with a splash of few words of Tulu and English. Only his aggressive body language with gestures and not the mélange of languages he was speaking conveyed that he meant whatever happened five years ago was absolutely right from his point of view. The story doesn’t end there. Muthalik spoke in a tearful press meet on Sunday evening where he expressed shock, pain and dismay for being ousted from the party. And thereafter spiritedly came back in the night for a debate in the News Hour with Arnab Goswami with his principal sidekick. That it took less than ten minutes for Arnab to tear him into shreds is a different matter. Muthalik replied to all charges in intervals of three minutes repeating four sentences again and again depending on which suited the occasion. They were as follows.

“I have not come here to listen to your lectures.” (When the esteemed panelists questioned him for the pub assault)

”Who are you to question me, this is democracy!” (When Arnab told him that he was a disgrace to the country and didn’t deserve to be in politics)

“I was in jail for 15 days” (When one of the panelists commented that he got away because the young girls he had intimidated did not come forward to testify against him) “People are with me” (When asked for the reasons behind his hasty ouster)

Not long after Pramod Muthalik and his sidekick beat a hasty retreat realising that a live debate on a National Television a lot tougher than beating up kids and it was not their cup of tea.

It appears to me that politicians such as Pramod Muthalik are out of sync with the populace with their medieval ideologies. His brand of fundamentalist politics does not have answers to the issues facing modern India. His ideology is no more than intimidating and terrorising people with goons in the name of God. For God’s sake, leave the Gods out of it. The writing is clear on the wall for Muthalik. India in 2014 doesn’t need him or for that matter the fundamentalists of any other religion. Their collective communal rhetoric may have worked in the electorate of last century but not anymore. India has moved on. Today the bigotry of these ‘Messiahs of Religion’ stands thoroughly exposed in the arc lights of the 21st century. India with its dynamic youth represented by the same young girls and boys they assault and intimidate are ready to throw them out. My worry is more personal. Once in every two years, I have the luxury of visiting London to catch up on West-End theatre, courtesy my son. With the ‘Tragi-comedies’ like Pramod Muthalik being played out on National Television on a regular basis before elections, I fear if my son would turn around and say, ‘be content with it this summer!’

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