Politics is often guided by political accidents. The media creates great opportunities, and even the most intelligent people sometimes forget that they can also make a mistake. Their popularity and charisma then starts ebbing and they get the most coverage on issues they would like to forget. I think Narendra Modi has come under pressure—even though he will take Gujarat easily—with his specific remarks on graft in his election speech on the IPL issue in Himachal Pradesh, and the sarcasm about the ‘Rs 50-crore girlfriend’. The Gujarat chief minister has yet to prove his credentials outside his state and has already made a series of mistakes, starting with the allegation of Rs 1,880 crore spent on the travel and medical expenses of Sonia Gandhi. The comments he made on Sonia, and the IPL charges on Shashi and Sunanda Tharoor were not in good taste.
As she made her case with a great deal of dignity, Sunanda got the most coverage, attention and sympathy on a subject that few in the media would like to comment on. Nitin Gadkari and his hard-hitting speech that was a fight for his survival in the BJP was quickly forgotten as were Arvind Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan and their recycled tirade on Reliance. They will have to do much more to attract media attention in the future. I wonder if this is the new form that recycled or rejected PILs will take in the future; only time will tell if the IAC leaders are acting as lobbyists for vested interests.
The RSS is quiet as is the BJP High Command. I think a carefully worded apology would have done little harm and could have applied closure to this subject. Many things are said in a election campaign and all this may have happened before but now we have the technology that enables the media to record every event, every word and every movement. I think Modi must be very careful in his choice of words. As a regular writer, the feedback I have got is not very positive. It would be sad if the feeling persists that some political parties and leaders have primitive views on women and their role in society.
The Congress and BJP would be well-advised to stick to their political roles; there is little need to encourage those committed to generate negativity for their own interests. I cannot understand why everyone has to react to negative thoughts and false charges. In many cases, you can see issues being recycled from the past for a reaction. The political parties should treat this like a T20 match where the bowler bowls but the ball never reaches the batsman who is unable to make runs.
Interested parties will give anyone the ‘Mahatma’ status if he takes a stand against any form of authority. This is good for TRPs and this is also why we see a dramatic rise and fall in these superior beings. Some TV channels are becoming like the tabloid press but here again the hunters become the hunted. The media and its leading stars are no longer exempt from scrutiny; very few people can match the standards they set for others in public life. We are used to political combat. In recent times there have been corporate wars, and now we will witness media conflicts, and before long Anna Hazare will descend for his ‘shoot and scoot’ effort and we could well witness a skirmish or two in civil society also as they fight for the same space.
The Congress and BJP are both in corrective mode and I hope they succeed. The Congress needs to announce party changes quickly and get moving. The BJP must announce its intentions on Vasundhara Raje in Rajasthan and getting back former CM B S Yeddyurrappa, but their immediate problem is the politically wounded Gadkari.
I can give you several options where alliances with regional parties can turn the situation upside down for both parties; this will be based on secular and non-secular divisions. Do not put the cart before the horse and arrive at premature conclusions.
Nehru is a former Union minister