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Political babes in the woods

Varun Gandhi is a babe. So is Rahul Gandhi. In fact, these elections are dominated by
the Babe Brigade. Nearly all the newbies on the block fall into the babe category. Most are Pamela Andersons of politics, cashing in on the oomph factor. ‘Babewatch’ rules. Pamela had silicone in her breasts. Desi Babes have silicone in their brains. No issues.
It’s sexy to be in politics these days. Especially if your surname is Gandhi. You can bank on the family name to save your butt after opening your mouth and stuffing both feet into it. As Varun has done with his recent hate speech. If jaws dropped, he didn’t notice them. Or perhaps, he doesn’t really care. This babe has made it to the front pages of nearly every newspaper, with TV channels greedily gobbling up every bon mot uttered by Maneka Gandhi’s beta. He himself insists love means never having to say you are sorry... and to hell with what civil society, the EC and others think of his outrageous, preposterous, provocative and — pardon the word — rabid comments. Mom Maneka has protected the interests of animals for years. She must know how dangerous a rabid dog is. What on earth was Varun thinking? He now claims it was a doctored CD that got the natives worked up. That’s a babe comment. He also adds he is proud of his faith, not apologetic about it and that he is a “Gandhi, a Hindu and an Indian in equal measure.” Jai Ho, bete. Bhagwan tera bhala karey.
I am not a Gandhi (Thank God for small mercies!), but i am also a Hindu and an Indian. Unapologetic on both scores. But i don’t want to cut off anybody’s hand or gouge out eyes to prove my credentials as either. Sensibly, the BJP has promptly distanced itself from the speech and the orator. But that’s the easy part. First you get an out-of-control babe to go out there and bak bak. Then the big boys back off leaving the babe to face the music. By then the damage (or the dirty work) is done. Smart! But sometimes being oversmart has a nasty way of backfiring. As has happened in Varun’s case. This Gandhi Babe is looking bad as compared to the other Gandhi Babe, who dimples away prettily and sticks to the safe and narrow script. The faux pas so far have been harmless and largely inoffensive. Babe Rahul has stuck to the moderate path approved by Mama and other party veterans. He has not grabbed too many headlines, but his style of netagiri is distinctly different from his cousin’s. Which is not surprising given the political ideology of their respective fathers.
Gandhigiri is not the sole prerogative of these two families. But try telling that to the faithful. The scary thought is that Varun’s bluster may pay rich, short-term dividends. Just like his father Sanjay Gandhi’s once did many moons ago, when he instigated his mother Indira Gandhi to impose the Emergency (surely one of the most shameful periods in modern India’s history). Sanjay found takers galore for his demolition drives and other autocratic moves to ‘improve’ Delhi.
It was a short and tragic love affair, but ominous while it lasted. Perhaps Babe Varun’s minders are hoping he, too, will have the ‘Sanjay Effect’ on the gullible who might confuse his aggression and immaturity for dynamism and daring. One can only hope he remains in a minority of one. Someone should remind him that netas like Sanjay briefly streak across the political sky before burning themselves out and disappearing into a black hole. India has always voted with its head and heart and unfailingly chosen moderation over extremism. That has been the pattern so far. And chances are that is how it will continue. Bigotry and hate have been traditionally defeated by those who offered the middle path. That should give us all the hope we require to see us through the coming ordeal. Leaders who challenge democratic principles may succeed as regional satraps (Narendra Modi, please note), but any leader aiming for national acceptancy instinctively knows it is just one thing that is going to do the trick this time — the promise of stability and security for all. The last two words are key — ‘for all’.
Babe Varun has been misguided by his handlers. Winning Pilibhit may be comparatively easy. But winning the hearts of Young India will require much more than a baring of teeth. This babe’s bark had better be worse than his bite. Time to get rid of that silicone, sweetie.


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