Will Sonia Gandhi marry a Dalit girl to Rahul Gandhi? For that matter, will any upper caste leader welcome a Dalit bahu, married by his or her son going against family ‘values’, with an open mind, let alone arranging one for him? The caste system is ingrained in the society, which has become much more liberal over the past couple of centuries and needs a lot more time to leave this soil. Every leader understands it, but given an opportunity they make ruckus over it. An incident of beating up Dalits in Gujarat becomes enough for the country’s parliament to debate the issue for a whole day. And Rahul Gandhi, who appeared disinterested (or sleeping?) on issue while being raised in the Parliament by his colleagues, goes and ‘sympathises’ with a Dalit victim in Gujarat next day. And there is a ‘Peeply Live’ scene in the poor man’s house at Una! While there is no guarantee of change in social mindset by such visits and hot debates, political mileage is ensured to respective parties.
It was Congress-led Opposition who hijacked the proceedings of the Parliament especially the Rajya Sabha on July 21 over a BJP leader equating Mayawati to a prostitute. Next day, it was the ruling BJP that stalled the both Houses over AAP leader Bhagwat Singh Mann’s shooting a video inside the Parliament. There is no question about Mann’s highly immature behaviour, but can stalling the parliament be a damage control exercise? Interestingly, it was the ruling party which was more interested in a debate on the issue. An eye on Punjab election is obvious. They also wanted something to hog headlines to cover up the damage done to the party by the incident in Gujarat, which is going to polls next year.
Perhaps, it is only in India where a mere statement or video can dominate the political space and the greater public interest being taken for a ride. The public can easily get swayed by controversies over such matters that can be solved by legal or administrative tools. The BJP leader who uttered offensive words against Mayawati was already punished by the party by expelling him while those caught flogging Dalits in Gujarat were arrested. The government can implement all legal tools against Mann for violating security of the Parliament and end the matter. It is only politics that need these issues to be boiling on the public arena. How long do we have to live with such hypocrisy?
(Published in The Meghalaya Guardian as editorial on July 23,2016)