Slapgate stirred up India last week, with journos and politicos going kolaveri over the thappad from the Sardar that shook up Pawar. Then Anna joined the fray with his query: ek hi maara kya? As he clarified to irate journos, he was innocently enquiring after the health of his bete noire (the two have been at loggerheads in the state of Maharashtra for two decades now). Right!
The slap managed to accomplish something rare: unanimity amongst the political parties as each raced to condemn the Sardar. Non-violence was dug out and aired in public and encomiums sung for Pawar.
“The party has never supported violence. Sharad Pawar is a non-violent and a good human being.” – BJP leader Sushma Swaraj
“The guilty must be punished.” – Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh
“The act is unfortunate and condemnable and these things should not happen in a democracy.” – Congress spokesperson.
Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, an MP, urged party members to forget the incident.
The gall of the common man, an ordinary citizen, a transporter, to have taken his hand to the withering cheek of a Union minister. When will the ordinary citizens of India learn from their leaders:
- To protest in a non-violent manner: “If Walmart attempts to open any shop anywhere then I will personally burn them down.” BJP leader Uma Bharti
- To punish the guilty: Congress leaders implicated in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, BJP leaders implicated in the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi implicated in the Godhra riots of 2002 are criminals who continue to be in power.
- These things should not happen in a democracy: Each of the above was a pogrom organized by leaders on their own people, albeit on those of a different faith, in our sometimes-Nazi land of democratic India. Voter lists came handy in identifying victims, police was available to assist mobsters, witnesses and whistle-blowers were visited by the goon squad.
- To forget the incident: Our politicos are men with diminished limbic system, to forget and move on is their defining mantra.
Oh stuff it, our leaders are telling us. The man who slapped, Harvinder Singh, is in Tihar jail, and we politicos are sharpening our knives over FDI. So long, political unity, now for the next scam.
And thus the cycle continues.
If remembering the past gives power to the future, our future is bleak. We are governed by men who do not remember, and a conspiracy of silence is how they compensate.