Puppy politics & Gandhi branding
If you are wondering what the relation between them is, I stress, with an underline, that there is absolutely no link except that the pair of words,...
If you are wondering what the relation between them is, I stress, with an underline, that there is absolutely no link except that the pair of words, Gandhi and brandy, rhyme well while puppy sticks out like a sore thumb in the trio of expressions that are reeling out of our politicians' mouths. A great deal has been written �and discussed at length by TV commentators on various channels � about an imagined nondescript puppy that had the misfortune of being run over by the car in which Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was travelling. He had all the sympathies for the poor thing. Had he applied brakes on the chain of thoughts at that level, NaMo would have escaped the pup of shame. But he unleashed the puppy into the dangerous zone that has been a battleground nearly for a decade between him and his political rivals. The otherwise cute puppy has grown into a monster overnight and started hounding Modi. He is the Chief Minister of a State where Gandhi, the apostle of peace and a champion of non-violence, the two weapons he used effectively to win the country's freedom from the colonial British rulers, was born and is still the only State in the country that officially follows the prohibition policy. Surely, Gandhi wouldn't have liked to see a puppy being run over by a vehicle of the head of government in his home State or the issue becoming a hot topic for national debate. Whatever his wish might have been, the puppy is running riot at every venue and avenue with leaders of various hues except saffron chasing it. More amusing is Gandhi's policies and principles being bandied about by self-centred politicians for analogies and hitting out at rivals and dragging his family name into needless controversies. The other day, Andhra Pradesh Congress President Botcha Satyanarayana lashed out at former Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy (YSR) and his family members, including the widow, son and daughter who have been on a mission to come to power from YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) platform. The reason for his outburst was a caustic remark made by Sharmila, the daughter of the late Chief Minister, who is reported to have said during her walkathon in Vizianagaram that she wondered whether Botcha was appointed as PCC chief for inheriting the legacy of Gandhi or brandy. The reference, obviously, was to Congress and the party leadership and Botcha's alleged liquor business which he had said belonged to his relatives. The PCC chief's acidic riposte that bared a few personal details might have stung the YSR family members. But the issue is whether political leaders should wash their dirty linen in public? They may be playing to the gallery for cheap thrills but ultimately what matters is the way they carry themselves and gain people's confidence. It is a sad commentary on our political system if public leaders stoop to low levels even if they believe that everything is fair in love and politics. Decency may be the watchword in Western democracies where language leaders use in political debates and parliament is watched. Digression from norms means opprobrium. Even if we leave such niceties aside, mouthing no-holds-barred language negates the spirit of democracy although free speech is its hallmark. One finds it jarring to bring into verbal duels Gandhi's name which is synonymous with non-violence and prohibition and is generally associated with the Father of the Nation. It is insulting a great leader, to say the least. Talking of insulting others, how can one justify a party leader calling rival names? Deriding opponents as Rambo, jumbo, bimbo and the like may be mirth but making derogatory remarks like the one Minister of State for Railways and Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has made against West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee shows how low one could go. The minister called her a "mad elephant". While campaigning in Murshidabad district for the ongoing panchayat polls in the State, Chowdhury said, "In spite of being successful in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress is in a mess at the moment. The Chief Minister is herself involved in a huge way in the entire mess. If the head of the house behaves like a mad elephant, what can be said about the party workers?" Given the fiery nature of Mamata in hitting out at her critics, we can expect a 'befitting' reply from the firebrand leader in equally offensive terms. If political leaders don't mind their language, public meetings will turn into slanging matches, a trend that can make its way to State Assemblies and Parliament.