'I am considering issuing a diktat -- anyone who is a male in my party must keep clear of all remarks, written or verbal, on anything to do with women.'
Sherna Gandhy's tongue-in-cheek piece on Didi's travails with the foot-in-mouth netas in her party!
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
What to do with all these fellows one is forced to take into one's party simply because there are not enough women to fill all posts and positions?
They simply don't know when to open their mouths and they know even less what to say.
The latest foot-in-mouth artist is also an actor and maybe got carried away by filmi dialogue.
They have never heard of the term 'political correctness'. In the moffussil where many of them have been born and brought up, you say what you think.
In many ways this is admirable. It is called being frank, fearless and forthright. Saying it as it is. Calling a spade a spade. And so on.
But there is a time and place for everything. So, while you can say what you like about political opponents, you cannot say what you like about women.
Threatening to murder your opponent is okay -- every two-bit politician of every two-bit party does so. But threatening women -- that too with rape -- is just not on.
I am finding this very difficult to explain to my party men. How to make them understand that rape is not an accepted form of punishing your opponent?
Some say it is part of our culture and we must never change our culture.
That's why our women cannot go into pubs because they have never done so in our ancient texts and scriptures.
Or wear bikinis on beaches (ancient sculptures like those of Khajuraho were apparently sculpted by aliens).
If the village panchayat sees nothing wrong in killing women who have transgressed some code or other, why pillory someone for merely threatening to commit rape?
Others say if women 'step out of line' they must take the consequences. The Lakshman Rekha, if you remember, is the most important line in all Indian history -- even more important than the Line of Control.
It is very difficult to drag people into the 21st century, I can tell you. It was much easier dragging them away from the CPI-M. The politics of politics is simple, but this politics of gender and rape and all these things is just too much.
These days women bite back via all these organisations and commissions and what not. I agree that we must (I did it to the CPI-M, after all). But how to get these donkey fellows in my party to understand that?
There are not only the feminists and all those things. There is now also the TVwallahs and their 'expert panels'.
Before, one or two small newspapers would have carried some disgusting remark made by some chota-mota neta and within a few days it would be forgotten.
Nowadays, debating on controversial remarks made by some political party pooper has become an industry. Loud TV anchors and their even louder 'experts' make a lot of noise to their mutual benefit and satisfaction.
People don't have enough food to eat, good doctors to attend to them, schools for their children; civic infrastructure crumbles, people are out of work, their lands are snatched away to benefit everyone but themselves, children run away from government homes meant to protect them...
So many problems, but the TVwallahs and their experts believe that condemning a politician for some stupid remark he makes is more worthy of their time and attention.
Worst of all, they blame me for what these chaps say. Why I have these kinds of people in my party, they demand.
Where am I going to get sophisticated, liberal minded people from?
They are all in universities or NGOs or TV expert panels. You think they want to wear crumpled cotton saris, rubber chappals and go on the stump in 45 degrees temperature?
I can tell you, politics is not as simple as it used to be.
At one time I just had to throw the Tatas out together with the hammer and sickle. Now I have to spend time defending all these chauvinist idiots or getting them to tender insincere apologies.
I am considering issuing a diktat -- anyone who is a male in my party must keep clear of all remarks, written or verbal, on anything to do with women.
Come to think of it, I'll extend that to all party workers -- women are often equally Middle Ages about these things.
I am also considering giving them elocution lessons so that 'raid' is not mistaken for 'rape' as my filmstar-MP claims happened in his case.