The association of food and politics isn’t a new paradigm. Since Gandhi’s fast to politicians relishing a feast with the oppressed to prove their ‘inclusivity’, food has played vital role in satiating a politician’s hunger for remaining relevant. With the advent of the current dispensation, from banning meat to forced vegetarianism, every morsel consumed has a deeper significance.
This isn’t about wasting milk and tomatoes on the road, or making a boring speech using the moral compass. Netas have reached down to their gut and pulled out the hidden foodie that lives inside to justify their publicity stunts and protests.
Chicken to beat coronavirus
As the deadly coronavirus continues to grapple across the globe, rumours of its transmission have been doing rounds via uninformed social media enthusiasts. As the price of poultry reported a drop in no time, Telangana ministers turned connoisseurs to save the day. KT Rama Rao, Etela Rajender, Talasani Srinivas Yadav were among those who gorged on some delicious chicken pieces at a public event to dispel the rumours.
The segregated beef ban in India that allows certain states to exercise the use of this ‘sacred meat’ came back with another controversy after it was reported to have been dropped from the menu for state police trainees in Kerala. Clearly this called for a lip-smacking protest, as Congress workers distributed beef curry and bread in front of the police station.
In his recent tweet while relishing a meaty feast with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, the world's only Minister of Tolerance in Abu Dhabi, Tharoor subtly implied how despite being vegetarian, the Sheikh, a friend for 14 years was ‘tolerant’. Shashi, who wasn’t in India during the Delhi riots, quoted by The National said, "For me this cut to the bone, it hurts at a very visceral level.” Perhaps the tweet stands for coexistence despite difference in ideologies.
Litti Chokha ahead of Bihar elections
PM Narendra Modi, who recently made a surprise visit to 'Hunar Haat' at Rajpath relished 'litti-chokha’. It is a delicacy from Bihar where the Litti is made of whole wheat flour, stuffed sattu (Black chana powder) and some herbs and spices. What brings flavour to the Litti is the way it is cooked. They are baked with the help of coal or cow dung cakes and topped with desi ghee. Chokha is a mix of eggplant, onion, tomato, cumin powder, coriander, turmeric powder and some chillies.
However, analysts began drawing inferences on his choice to pick the Bihari dish over a plethora of options. Is Bihar on Prime Minister Modi's mind? Well, Bihar is slated to go for polls in October this year. The elections hold significance for the BJP after it has failed to form a government in six states. Still can’t beat former Bihar chief minister’s slogan 'Jab tak Samosa mein rahega aalu, Bihar mein rahega Lalu'.
Trump’s Broccoli samosa
Speaking of samosa, here’s a painful reminder of how US President Donald Trump avoided getting hangry after being served an unusual vegetarian platter on his maiden visit to India. Amid the expensive mushrooms and Gujarati delicacies, it was the broccoli samosa that raised brows. It’s not that unlikely to see samosa get a twist. A shack in Mumbai serves all kinds of it including one with chocolate. But broccoli for meat-loving Trump? Sigh*
The US Prez who avoids veggies at all cost has a strict diet that doesn’t change. McDonalds’ McMuffin, Big Mac, Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, diet coke, chocolate shake, Doritos and lays. As the say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, even if he’s the most powerful one on the planet.
When Biryani is BAE
The 2020 Delhi Elections saw Swiggy's most ordered dish – Biryani become the buzz word. As the CAA protests in Shaheen Bagh escalated, BJP leaders such as IT cell chief Amit Malviya and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath made statements that Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sponsored and distributed to protesters. Clearly, this isn’t the first time that a divine dish to foodies was maligned for political gains.
After Swami Krushnaswarup Dasji said, "If a menstruating woman cooks food for her husband, she will be definitely born as a female dog in her next life." 28 menstruating women in Delhi's Mayur Vihar hosted a lunch called 'Period Feast' in response to the incident where college students in a hostel in Gujarat (associated to Swami), were strip-searched to prove they weren't menstruating.
Onions and Avocados
When the opposition questioned the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman over the soaring onion prices, she merely answered "I don't eat much of onion-garlic. I come from such a family which doesn't have much to do with onion.” This led to former Finance Minister P Chidambaram countering with "she is not bothered... What does she eat? Does she eat avocado?"
Be it caste, religion or millennial lingo, food in political times has upgraded to not just suit ideologies, but as the basis of tolerance. And why not? For a country that has become a pro at hate-mongering, food has a better chance at bringing peace.