Opening a slapgate

It all started with that Iraqi journalist throwing his shoe at George Bush. He was protesting against the atrocities of the American forces against innocent civilians during the American invasion of Iraq. Bush ducked in time, but the act was a precedent for many more such incidents. Closer home, P Chidambaram had a slipper hurled at him.

Advani and Manmohan Singh have also faced similar situations. Former Italian president Berlusconi was seen on video with a broken tooth and a bloodied face after a stone struck him, thrown by a protestor condemning his dalliances with women. What is obvious is that there is a legitimate grouse that the affected party or parties are unable to get redressed through the normal channels. Therefore they take the law into their own hands and give vent to their pent up frustrations. This is not to condone or support such actions. But even a cursory reading of public pulse is enough to understand the depth of citizens’ ire and disgust with politicians and their games.

Take the latest instance of Sharad Pawar being slapped and Sukhram being kicked. In both cases, by the same youngster Harvinder Singh. Sukhram was kicked outside the court hall where he was convicted for taking a bribe in a telecom deal signed during his tenure as minister. Sharad Pawar was slapped as he symboliss the quintessential politician, wily, scheming, double dealing, rotund, potbellied, crooked and power hungry, who belches in contentment while the country groans under double digit inflation.

Now, a look at some popular blogs and what people have to say on this. ‘He (Harvinder) should be awarded the Param Vir Chakra.’ ‘He deserves the Padmashri.’ ‘Harvinder should have used his footwear to slap him.’ ‘If you catch a thief in his act, do you worship him or thrash him?’ ‘At last a beginning has been made. They deserve it.’ ‘We are the ones who voted for them. So what’s wrong if we punish them?’ ‘Same treatment for other politicians also.’ ‘Harvinder is a Yugapurusha.’ ‘Manmohan calls up Pawar and expresses his indignation and condemns the act, while his own partymen beat up a protestor in UP for just showing a black flag at Rahul Gandhi’s car.’ Amchi Maharashtrian Anna Saheb has expectedly contributed his mite by asking ‘only one slap?’

As said earlier, all these are examples of the river of mass anger, helplessness and disillusionment with the current state of affairs breaching its embankments here and there and causing isolated flooding. What will happen if the entire structure collapses and the floodgates open is not difficult to imagine. But what is surprising is that politicians who are usually quick to sense public feeling and swoop down to turn matters to their advantage and make a killing are choosing to ignore the warning signals.

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