To begin with let me set the record straight so the reader is under no notional or actual illusion about the writer’s allegiances. I have never been a great admirer of Mr Narendra Modi, period. Ever since he tried to compare himself with the great Sardar Patel by creating a photo application on a website (which showed Sardar Patel and when you took the cursor on the photo it morphed into Mr Modi) as far back as 2004, I have been at best amused by his antics or generally remained neutral towards his King Kong like chest thumping self promotion as the supposed Konrad Adenauer of Gujarat. However, his comment on Mr Shashi Tharoor’s wife and resultant barrage of reactions is nadir of political discourse in India.
By crossing this sacred lakshman rekha Mr Modi has set a new low for the politicians. And there are some who are more than willing to go even lower. Mr Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) talks of “Love Ministry” and compares Mr Tharoor to a love guru. A party that takes pride in cultural nationalism and its parent organization leaves no opportunity to crow about its love for Indian values and great respect it has for women, this is what their reality is. One of their leaders doesn’t have the basic courtesy to observe a respectful distance between personal and public life and then there are other colleagues who endorse his views by adding two bit of their own supposed wisdom.
Add to that there is Mr Shashi Tharoor, our venerable and very accomplished writer-leader. Tweeting notwithstanding, his very American openness and lack of grasp about Indian politics was seen as a reason for his early downfall in his first avatar as a minister. We thought our man was naïve. But his remark “my wife is priceless” suggest he hasn’t learned his lessons and is determined to create a mess which is utterly avoidable. Can Mr Twitoor, please tell us what was his compulsion, other than a compulsive tweeting disorder, to lend dignity to Mr Modi’s comment by reacting to it? Hasn’t anyone told him that keeping quiet is better part of wisdom in political discourse and especially when it is veering towards crass? Sir, a humble request — It would be better to drop your determined naivety and understand the turf you are operating on.
These kinds of comments are expected from third class student leaders at college level when they have lost the elections and are trying to shield their embarrassment by being loud or lout. Even among criminals there is an unwritten code of sparing the family members from verbal and physical assault. Leadership demands that the top of the pyramid leads those at the bottom in deeds, values and conduct. However, in last one and a half years it is becoming increasingly evident that the case is other way round.
If law makers and representatives of the people are prickly about their own perks, privileges and decorum, they should behave in a manner where they earn respect. The days of commanding respect by virtue of age or position are long gone and so long as our venerable politicians keep living in denial and try to perpetuate feudal values they would keep losing the respect of the public and their colleagues and that could be fatal for them on the political judgment day.