Disgraceful behaviour

Disgraceful behaviour

Karnataka politicians usually conduct themselves with dignity and maturity, but two incidents involving union minister Anant Kumar Hegde and former chief minister Siddaramaiah have sullied the image of the state, besides their own reputations, beyond redemption. Hegde ventured into uncharted territory when he called state Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao “a guy who ran behind a Muslim girl”. Hegde had made an inflammatory speech, saying that a hand that “touches a Hindu girl should be cut off,” in response to which Rao had urged the union minister to stop dividing the society on communal lines and instead talk about what work he had done as union minister. In an apparent and cowardly bid to skirt the real issue, Hegde, instead of taking on Rao on substantial issues, drew his Muslim wife Tabu Rao into the debate. Tabu Rao is a private person and a home-maker who does not hold any public or political office. Invoking her name and community in a derogatory manner to settle political scores with her husband is reprehensible and unbecoming of a union minister.

If Hegde plunged lower than the abysmal standards that he has set for himself, Siddaramaiah by his less than honourable behaviour with a lady voter drew flak from all quarters. At a public interaction, a woman who coincidentally happens to be a Muslim, too, angrily complained to Siddaramaiah about the inaccessibility of his son and MLA of Varuna constituency, Yathindra, and repeatedly banged the table to emphasise her point. Upset by the lack of servitude, the former chief minister flew into a rage and forcibly yanked the microphone off her hand, in the process unfortunately pulling her veil, too, and giving out the impression that he was trying to disrobe her. When the lady persisted in continuing with her diatribe against the absentee MLA, Siddaramaiah had the temerity to physically force her to resume her seat. That the woman was known to him for 13 years or her subsequent clarification that she considered Siddaramaiah a father figure are no excuses for such crude, crass and uncouth conduct on his part. As a senior and seasoned politician, he should be setting a high benchmark for others to follow. This public display of arrogance only brings him disgrace.

What is common to both Hegde and Siddaramaiah is that neither has thought it fit to apologise unconditionally to their victims, a clear indication that they are unrepentant. The BJP and Congress should hand down exemplary punishment to both these misogynistic leaders to send a clear message that such medieval attitudes will not be tolerated. Mere lip sympathy for the women will not do. It is time to crack the whip.