Minding their own language: sacking the sadhvi won’t cure it

Guttural remarks are not new to our politics

ajay

Ajay Singh | December 5, 2014




Not long ago – to be precise, just before the 2007 Gujarat assembly elections – Congress general secretary BK Hariprasad described Narendra Modi in a highly innovative figure of speech in Hindi: “Kaunsi nali mein peda hua hai, pata nahin hai. Khudko baap ka naam bhi pata nahin” (he is a vermin of a drainage and he does not know who is his father).

Party chief Sonia Gandhi heard it and feigned ignorance. Hariprasad was never taken to task for his utterances. His continued significance within the Congress has only confirmed the apprehension that his vituperation was strategic and endorsed by his leadership. Hariprasad never expressed any regrets nor did the Congress leadership ever apologise for taking the political discourse to a guttural level.

For those who seemed chagrined by Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s “Ram-zaade versus haraamzade” comment, it would be appropriate to introspect and atone for debasing the language of politics. Any avid watcher of politics would testify that expressions of the haraamzade variety had found place in political discourse decades ago. The Hindutva forces legitimised it at the local level. At the peak of the Ayodhya agitation, many ‘religious’ leaders had resorted to idioms and phrases not conforming to civilised conduct.

Since these discourses continued at the subterranean level in order to inflame passions and mobilise people, the top leadership chose to ignore the risk of it getting out of control. In politics, expediency has always been a preferred tactic. The BJP gained from it and the Congress too used it as per convenience which was reflected in Hariprasad’s oratory.

At the regional level, how much the debate has changed is reflected in an outpouring by West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who used an expression that would be unacceptable in bhadralok parlance. In subaltern discourse, Mamata’s expression of “shoving the bamboo up the rear” is obviously quite prevalent. But the Bengali bhadralok appears unduly aghast over Banerjee’s remarks. Is it not true that her Marxist adversaries had resorted to even worse expressions against her when they were in power? Now the table is turned against them.

If one looks at Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha where regional players are strong, there is a discernible sea-change in political language and expressions. The obvious reason is that the political leadership was hardly concerned about the quality of content in political discourse so long as the message was delivered effectively to the masses.

The fact that Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti owed her ascendancy to her rabblerousing skills is not a secret. The saffron-clad sanyasin with dalit background would perfectly fit into the Sangh Parivar’s objective of assimilation of the depressed castes into the larger Hindutva fold. She knows her strength and can easily get away unscathed, with many such speeches in the same vein as Hariprasad. The issue cannot be addressed merely by removing the sanyasin from the union cabinet.

Comments

 

Other News

The ‘not me’ syndrome

While reading down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the supreme court acknowledged the apology that Indian society owes to people with sexual minority identities. This acknowledgement has evoked deep validation amongst people who identify themselves as queer, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. A

How railways plans to go green

With about 23 million passengers on an average day, the Indian Railways itself is the size of a small country. When India plans to significantly increase the share of renewable energy in its consumption pie, the railways too aims to meet at least 10-15 percent of its energy demand from renewable sources

Railway electrification: Easier said than done

Even as the railways minister Piyush Goyal lays thrust on the 100 percent electrification of entire rail network by 2022, the task cut out for the railways seems to be a strenuous one as it comes with multifarious challenges. Indian Railways has said that it would electrify 38,000 route kilo

A Triumfant meet

Prime minister Modi and president Putin’s meeting at the 19th Indo-Russian summit in New Delhi on October 5 has set a new pace for a ‘special and privileged strategic partnership’ between the two nations. This has come in the aftermath of the Modi-Putin informal meeting at Sochi on May

A space for faith

When the supreme court ruled that women of menstruating age cannot be prevented from going to the Ayyappa shrine in Sabarimala, political parties in Kerala hailed it as a historic victory for gender equality. But now the streets of Kerala are full of men and women protesting against the court order and b

Migrants at a crossroads

For the past fortnight, Gujarat has witnessed an exodus of migrants from Hindi-speaking states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The migrants, mostly of the labouring classes, have been attacked by locals after a 14-month old girl was raped, allegedly by a Bihari whom the police have arrested. The rape survivo

Current Issue

Current Issue

Video

CM Nitish’s convoy attacked in Buxar

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter