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Wisdom, old age don’t always go together; look at our netas
‘HOW LOW CAN YOU STOOP?’
The crude analogies and the graphical representation given by the Bihar Chief Minister while giving his speech on population control not only made the women present in the legislative assembly uncomfortable but made every woman of India uncomfortable.” But then why didn’t the women in Assembly stall the house? Why did they not demand apology then and there? Is it necessary to be so subservient to the leader? This is where the political parties are failing. They refuse to call a spade a spade
India has the best of B Schools, best techies, best young minds, yet what it lacks is the best political system. It is suffering from gerontocracy. Maybe it is following the trend that has been set by US where older people become the Presidents. Trump and Biden are two of the three oldest men who had served as presidents. Ronald Reagan left office when he was 77 and Trump left office at the age of 74.
Similarly, in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is 73 years old. Manmohan Singh became PM at the age of 72 years, P V Narasimha Rao when he was 70. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar is 72 years old, former Bihar CM Laloo Prasad Yadav is 75, TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu 73 and Sharad Pawar 82. Telangana CM K Chandrashekhar Rao is 69 years and comparatively the youngest of them, all though still part of the gerontocracy team. Given a chance, almost all of them would like to become Prime Ministers.
Fine, one may say ‘Old is Gold.’ But the question that one needs to ask himself or herself if that is so. Are they gold- hearted visionaries? Well, the way our political system is facing aberrations, neither the old leaders nor their younger progenies are proving to be any better. In fact, they are competing in degrading the political language.
Till recently, it was felt that this phenomenon had taken deep roots in the two Telugu states, more so in Andhra Pradesh. But the way Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar used his knowledge to put forward a vivid description in the state assembly recently of how an educated woman can restrain her husband during sexual intercourse was certainly objectionable. He gave such a graphic description of the act in the house of democracy called legislature in his capacity as the Chief Minister. He said, “The husband’s acts led to more births. However, with education, a woman knows how to restrain him. (The description was much more vivid)..: he said in a rustic style. He also remarked, “You, journalists also understand it well. Earlier fertility rate was 4.3, but it has now reached 2.9. And, soon we will reach 2,” he added.
A day later he said he condemns himself for using such language and said he would apologise ‘if’ anyone felt offended. If a child or even an adult uses foul language in a house, other members take strong objection to it and pull them up or even punish them. But it was shocking that not many women members had risen to object to the words the Bihar CM had used. His deputy was seen laughing. What kind of message were the gerontocracy members giving to their progenies and younger and emerging leaders? Why were the members silent? Why are they so scared?
What is equally shocking is that it is being used for political purpose and three days later the RSS-linked women’s organisation condemns Nitish Kumar’s remarks on population control saying that the language used by Nitish was sexist and chauvinist thinking and is “dangerous” for the country. They said, “The crude analogies and the graphical representation given by the Chief Minister while giving his speech on population control not only made the women present in the legislative assembly uncomfortable but made every woman of India uncomfortable.” But then why didn’t the women in Assembly stall the house? Why did they not demand apology then and there? Is it necessary to be so subservient to the leader? This is where the political parties are failing. They refuse to call a spade a spade and cannot tolerate someone who does so whether it be an individual, a professional or media.
Unfortunately, all legislatures and political parties had done away with the system of political training where the young and first-time leaders were trained regarding the rules, the decency and decorum that needs to be followed, parliamentary and unparliamentary words, procedures etc. The Speakers used to immediately expunge the unparliamentary words but also used to caution anyone even if it was the leader of the house or a member of the ruling party. But now the situation is not so.
The language used by Nitish Kumar was something which is used by uncultured people on the streets and who are mentally sick. It was never expected from a senior politician like Nitish Kumar. Apologising, condemning oneself really is not the solution. It is like applying ointment to an injury, but the fact is that the injury had already been caused. Showing magnanimity, the Speaker of Bihar Assembly should have expunged those remarks from the records instantly and expressed his displeasure over the language.
Nitish’s statement makes one wonder who has taken a leaf out from whom? Did Bihar take inspiration from Andhra Pradesh or is it vice versa? We have seen the objectionable language being used by ministers and MLAs. We have also seen how the Speaker addresses the members by name. Normally, Speakers are expected to address the members as honourable member and rarely do they mention the name after the word honourable member.
The reason is taking the name of a member amounts to naming him. In parliament or assembly, naming a member means drawing of attention of the House by the Speaker or Chairman to the conduct of a member who disregards the authority of the Chair or abuses the Rules of the House by persistently and wilfully obstructing the business thereof, which may even invite suspension from House by the Speaker.
Though the situation in Telangana is a shade better than AP and Bihar inside the Assembly, the language used in election speeches is getting more and more polluted and all parties and leaders irrespective of their age are competing in adding invectives.
If you look back, Bihar for long was quoted as an example where the gun culture was the order of the day, indiscipline in the form of people forcing way into reserved compartments and occupying their seats forcibly and beating them up and throwing them out of train if they resisted. Backwardness in all respects as well as use of vulgar language was the order of the day.
After Nitish became the CM, an impression was given that there has been significant change in this narrative of the Bihar, and it was Andhra Pradesh which took the place of Bihar. But Nitish towards the fag-end of his career has proved that nothing has changed.
What one fails to understand is why the bloc I.N.D.I.A did not react or condemn it. What happened to the leaders like Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi who speak about Mohabbat Ki Dukan? Do they not find it as vulgar, indecent or misogynistic, sexist comment? Mohabbat should be pure not vulgar.
Instead of women leaders coming forward unitedly to condemn the statement, some of them have started accusing one another of making politically motivated comments.
Rekha Sharma, the NCW chairperson, tagged Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi, asking them to condemn. Pat came the reaction who replied saying, “My dear biased, politically motivated Madam, I do unequivocally condemn any language used for women which is derogatory-irrespective of my politics, even if it comes from an ally. Unfortunately, as far as I recall, whenever we expected you to stand up for women, you chose selective silence and selectively action, doing a huge disservice to your chair as NCW which is supposedly nonpartisan.”
Not just the team gerontocracy, even the youngsters need to learn to call a spade a spade keeping aside political affiliations. Only then one can expect a robust and healthy democracy with values. Is there any hope? Yes, provided the voters learn to exercise their franchise properly and not get lured by money power.