The nature of political debate has changed sharply since Team Anna and Baba Ramdev made their debut, albeit without any signs they will contest elections. As political free agents, they have been pouring scorn and indulging in plain talk, that makes it clear they hold the current lot of politicians only slightly lower in esteem than we hold them. The target of their barbs: Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, and of course our prime minister, aka Shikhandi, who is fighting a vanguard action against corruption, Team Anna, his cabinet, but not, as revealed by his former media adviser, the big corporates. Baba Ramdev, who knows homosexuality is a treatable disorder, has launched political attacks on black money with logic only slightly more convoluted than the twists and turns that comprise your average jalebi.All this has made our newspapers marginally more interesting and served to increase the decibel of the debates on prime time TV. So, on the first anniversary of the flight of the cross-dressing Baba from Ramlila grounds, here are some of the more memorable quotes from our recent political discourses for your consideration and refreshment:
“Ramdev is a dawai bechnewala (medicine seller). The black money figures, which he said is stashed away in foreign banks, are fictitious and unsubstantiated.”—Sharad Yadav, JD (U) leader and NDA convener, who added: “The loud-mouthed Baba might boast his organisation is doing yeoman service to the nation, but the truth is he never did anything for the country or its people.”
“Our culture tells us that when a man wearing saffron visits you, you take his blessings. I feel proud that I took Ramdev Baba’s blessings.”—BJP chief and NDA leader Nitin Gadkari.
“Today, I saw a photograph of Nitin Gadkari touching the feet of Baba Ramdev in the newspaper. It is obvious that a businessman was touching the feet of another businessman, because Gadkari is less of a politician and more of a businessman, and Baba Ramdev is also less of a spiritual person and more of a businessman.”—Digvijay Singh.
“I was surprised when I got a chit asking me not to name politicians. I ignored it as I was in fIow and had already named a few. … I believe naming and shaming is necessary. Arvind Kejriwal of Team Anna, on Baba Ramdev’s disapproval of his political tactic.
“Everyday one hears of astronomical sums of black money that can be brought back with one stroke. It’s alleged that in every area of its activity, our government has swindled unbelievable amounts of money. Nothing can be farther from the truth. The misinformation being spread by disparate, desperate elements, unified only by their opposition to our government, needs to be tackled effectively.”—Manmohan Singh, after he found his voice in the wake of Sonia Gandhi being named and shamed.
“Manmohan Singh is a straight man… The problems come with his remote control. He is controlled by more than one remote. In fact, a number of his cabinet ministers fancy themselves as his remote.”—Anna Hazare.
“He got slapped! Only one slap?”—Anna Hazare on Sharad Pawar.
“Kapil Sibal is chalak (wily) and a dhokebaaz (betrayer).”—Baba Ramdev.
“Sarkar pehle bhrashtachari thi, ab woh atyachari bhi ho gayi hai.”—Baba Ramdev
“If Lokpal bill comes into force, FIRs will be lodged against 14 ministers in the Union government.”—Arvind Kejriwal.