India’s 14th Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi will complete four years in office in May 2018. These past three-and-a-half years have passed quickly and now everyone is interested in government’s report card on jobs and development rather than on shrill rhetoric. Something funny and amusing happened during the past couple of days in the parliament when PM Modi while speaking in both the houses of parliament replying to the motion of thanks address of president Ram Nath Kovind found himself inadvertently in a needless controversy.
While speaking in Rajya Sabha, PM Modi was addressing his fellow members when Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury was heard laughing in the background as the speech was going on and PM Modi had a quick witty reply and compared her laugh to mythological drama Ramayana’s character. This created quite a laugh from all male MPs and were seen thumping their benches.
Did PM Modi compare Renuka Chowdhury’s laugh to Ravan’s sister Shurpanakha? PM didn’t exactly take the name of the character, but the message was sent and it was implied that it was Shurpanakha. Firstly, the behaviour of Renuka Chowdhury was unacceptable and the (hideous) laughter was not justified as the speech was going on and in a way, it was a contempt of parliament’s proceedings and of PM Modi as well. Indian election system has over the years seen many sexist comments being made and, in this day and age, it is totally unacceptable for this kind of sexist and misogynistic behaviour.
PM Narendra Modi is clearly feeling the pinch and his track record has not been exemplary on many parameters. You cannot rake up issues of 1947 in 2018 to divert and digress attention from core issues. BJP talks about being a party with a difference, but when junior home minister Kiren Rijiju on social media tries to put some content, then it is highly objectionable and it reeks of chauvinism. PM Modi has had history of making some rather sexist or indecent comments in past as his long-running feud with former Congress president Sonia Gandhi (Italy origin), calling Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s wife late Sunanda Pushkar ‘50 crore ki girlfriend’ during a public rally or his relationship with estranged wife Jashodaben, so this doesn’t come as a surprise. Being the custodian of law and constitution, as a prime minister, it is the duty of Narendra Modi to maintain civility in public forums and has to make a big distinction between attacking political opponents during rallies and talking about them in parliament.
This issue would have been easily sorted if PM Modi had told Renuka Chowdhury in private that her behaviour was not fitting as an MP and this issue wouldn’t have become a controversy. India’s PM has to deliver on his innumerable and umpteen promises and has to behave like a statesman and should not be getting offended or irritated by a laugh. Sometimes, our politicians take themselves very seriously and once in a while should loosen up and laugh at themselves.
Post Script: Government of India now thinks selling pakodas (fritters) as a form of employment and says that it will affect our GDP. When PM Modi was voted to power, electorate wanted jobs, employment and money in their pockets and not some pakoda selling scheme. Time has come for the central government to act seriously and get its priorities sorted. Time is not far away when instead of IITs and IIMs, we will have pakoda selling institutes and our country could follow pakodanomics instead of economics.