When a commoner named Harvinder Singh slapped Union Agriculture minister and a seasoned politician Sharad Pawar, as he was returning from a public function on the 24th of November 2011, the nation glued to their television sets shockingly as most of the electronic channels played the shot again and again. Mind you this was the third such attack in recent weeks. Few days back, Prasant Bhusan, a member of team Anna and a noted lawyer was beaten by an unknown person for his alleged comments on Kashmir. Similarly, Arvind Kejriwal, yet another team member was thrown chappals at a public event. And the list doesn’t end here. Some of our esteemed netas with the likes of LK Advani and P Chidambaram have also tasted the ‘chappal maar’ few months back. The shoe- throwing incident or to put it in other words, the attack on politicians in full public glare that started off with George Bush, the former president of the USA, who was thrown a shoe by an Iranian while he was addressing a press conference, has suddenly become a potent weapon for many. Meanwhile, the latest ‘slapgate’ controversy as it is being dubbed by the media, poses few serious questions for both the country men and the politicians as well.
But first things first. Harvinder Singh may have been termed as mentally unstable by his family members but a close look of that shot clearly suggest that the man neither did it because he is mentally ill, nor he wanted his 15 minutes of fame rather frustration was written all over his face. He was the same man who had attacked former telecom minister Sukh Ram last Saturday when he was on his way to the jail. In fact when reporters asked him why he indulged in such acts, Harvinder replied that he was frustrated with the rising prices, corruption and the inability of the politicians to tackle this. Well, I don’t justify Harvinder’s acts, nor am I a votary of such tactics used by the common man; however as columnist Shobha De puts it: ‘There is no denying the fact that Harvinder’s unruly conducts has touched a chord. People across India are saying the same thing in one voice, “Well done, Paapey!” Yes, it's dangerous and disturbing. But there it is.’ A mood seems to be gaining ground among the common man who is getting restless with their apathetic netas who have failed in their duties to give minimum bare requirements to the middle class.
But if we look at the other side, we can’t deny that such incidents are an ominous sign for Indian democracy which is getting intolerant and violent day by day. The fact that people are losing faith in their leaders is disturbing for the future of this country whose hallmark has been its democracy since the nation got independence in 1947. Moreover, another hallmark that has been our greatest strength- freedom of expression is losing ground. Be it the corridors of parliament or public gallery, people who are expressing their views on contentious issues are either being attacked or being shut up. And the irony is the dissent is not confined to public speech only. Books, movies, texts that are provocative are either being banned or burned by the so-called protectors of the society. The latest to draw irk is none other than the movie ‘Dam999.’
Now, the Big Q: Who is to be blamed, what are the implications and what is the need of the hour? I feel such incidents will only hurt the common man and his pocket in the long run. As it is, our leaders have made a united plea to increase the security of the VVIPS that include mostly the politicians. Don’t be surprised; if in this winter session of parliament, our leaders keep other Bills aside and pass a Bill to increase the funds and manpower to safeguard all the leaders. And the money will obviously go from taxpayers’ exchequer only! So, it’s time for our aam-admi to get rid of such violent methods and behave more responsibly and act in a more democratic manner. It’s time they think twice before electing their leader so that they don’t need to slap them in public. And for our esteemed netas- time to respect their voters or else Arabian spring is not far away!
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