MONEY, MONEY, MONEY
There can be no place for crudity in public life. Given the socio-economic background of most politicians, it is, however, not uncommon for them to use the earthy idiom and colourful phrases. Shunning political correctness, politicians often use a more coarse language. But even after making due allowance for the rustic character of his audience, what the expelled BJP leader Dayashankar Singh said about the BSP leader Mayawati was controversial. He likened her to a prostitute, who sold party tickets to the highest bidder.
Speaking at a rally in Mau, he amplified the charge, saying that she sold an Assembly ticket for Rs 1 crore in the morning, took Rs 2 crore for the same seat in the afternoon and should someone come along offering Rs 3 crore in the evening, she would gladly ditch the earlier two aspirants and would not even care to return their money. To ensure that the message went home, he added the punch-line about even prostitutes behaving better. That was why a number of senior BSP leaders had left the party in disgust in recent weeks.
Of course, Singh was not being politically correct in likening her to a prostitute, even if only to emphasise her venality.
Naturally, she picked on the offensive comparison and painted the BJP anti-Dalit. You did not expect her to deny the charge about selling party tickets, did you? That part became irrelevant thanks to the use of the “P” word.
An embarrassed BJP hurriedly expelled Singh. It did not want to hand over an emotive issue to Mayawati in the run-up to the Assembly elections in UP.
She claimed the reason why she did not marry was because she wanted to devote her life to the service of Dalits. But the truth is that she is wedded to Maya (money) and Maya alone.
And that union is really going strong. Why didn’t she feel offended about the charge of selling party tickets? Why didn’t the party raise hell over their leader being called corrupt? Because her monumental corruption is a public secret. That is why.
She has amassed a huge fortune probably like no other politician in the country, playing the Dalit card, though she immodestly claims her followers treat her like a goddess. Had Singh made the same point without descending to the low-grade comparison, she would not have been able to play the wounded tigress.
Which makes us wonder as to why it is okay to say that he is ferocious like a tiger but offensive to say he barks like a dog.
These comparisons are situation- and context-specific and in neither case does the person alluded to become a member of the animal kingdom.
Venality is her strongest characteristic, supposed to be reflected in the case under review in the sale of party tickets to the highest bidders.
Meanwhile, Mayawati and her flock have unleashed a volley of unprintable abuse against Dayashankar’s wife and daughter.
Why are only others condemned to stay within the bounds of civility and political correctness while the unquestioned goddess of Maya can freely mouth ugly invective against innocent women?
Clearly, vote-bank politics has made them selective about filth as well.
A VERY CONFUSED SIDHU
The problem with Navjot Singh Sidhu is that he is torn between two contrary roles. Being a high-profile TV performer earns him big bucks, which, of course, he desperately seeks. But there is also an urge to be a significant political player. And the greed for money often conflicts with his political ambitions. Having been elected thrice on the BJP ticket to the Lok Sabha, Sidhu did not contest the last parliamentary poll. Given the bad vibes between him and the Badals, the Akalis prevailed on the BJP to field Arun Jaitley instead from Amritsar, the constituency Sidhu had won in 2009.
However, Sidhu was recently nominated to the Rajya Sabha. His resignation earlier in the week, therefore, cannot be linked to the denial of the Amritsar ticket two years ago. It could however have everything to do with his exclusion from the recent expansion of the Narendra Modi government. Now that he has quit the BJP, it is likely that he hoped to become AAP’s chief ministerial candidate in Punjab. But a section of the AAP is not overly enthusiastic about the prospect. For, Sidhu is not a team-player. Besides, AAP is a one-leader party. Supremo Arvind Kejriwal either marginalises anyone who is not a yes man or simply ejects him out of the party.
Therefore, we cannot see Sidhu lasting long in AAP, that is, should he be granted entry in the first place. Genuine public service entails a lot of sacrifice. Sidhu’s insistence on furthering his television career, with his political persona adding to the brand value, came in the way of his playing a bigger role in the political arena.
He cannot expect to play prima donna in politics without being ready to rough it out 24x7 in the service of the people. His resignation from the old and established BJP now finds him stranded. One road leads to an uncertain future with AAP, another to television studios, churning out low-brow stuff with Sidhu contributing alliterating fillers and cheap shayri accompanied by trade-mark guffaws for the lowest common denominator.
Since money seems to matter more, there is not much of a choice really. He should stick to loud Sidhuisms on nightly comic TV. Period.
MUZZLING PRESS FREEDOM, THE AAP WAY
Arvind Kejriwal is one of the more unscrupulous, more devious politicians around. The flagrant abuse of the Delhi government for giving jobs to close friends, relatives and party workers is unparalleled, especially from a fledgling party, which came on the promise of cleansing the system. It is doing anything but. Indeed, it is setting a new low in abusing taxpayers’ funds to muzzle the media.
Though sections of the media are always ready to crawl for a few ads, but since Kejriwal increased the publicity budget manifold there is an open assault on press freedom. Sometime ago, the AAP bosses forced a major Hindi daily to sack its correspondent because the latter had privately criticised the second phase of the odd-even scheme. The owners resisted for a while but eventually succumbed. The reporter was marginalised for the sake of the ads. But this is nothing. A major newspaper group with deep pockets is now being targeted. Probably it deserves what Kejriwal is doing to it. It had all along played up AAP to the annoyance of discerning readers. But even a worm turns. Having yielded to the dictates for the sake of ads, the paper baulked when AAP sought to virtually determine its editorial policy.
Not only does the AAP want disproportionate publicity for itself, it insists on its critics such as the Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly Vijender Gupta being blacked out. The tussle continues, surprising observers who had believed that the group would crumble when offered expensive full-page campaigns.
Meanwhile, full-page ads trumpeting the alleged wonders of the Kejriwal government have appeared in Odisha newspapers as well. Yet, the Delhi High Court seems to be in no particular hurry to hear the PIL filed by the Congress leader Ajay Maken challenging the allocation of Rs 526 crore for the glorification of Kejriwal.