By Sushil Kutty
It is dozens of hours since the wrestlers protesting at Jantar Mantar appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to their ‘Mann Ki Baat’, perhaps aware that India’s Prime Minister often slips into his default position of hard of hearing. And PM Modi, for all we know, must not have heard the cries of the wrestlers, whose allegations of sexual harassment against BJP MP and Wrestling Federation of India Chief Brij Bhushan Sharan haven’t pierced the ears of the Modi government. They can get hold of the best German-made hearing aids, but maybe PM Modi is waiting to find the letter on the bed to crack a joke at the expense of MP BBS.
The Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud has just today ordered the Delhi Police to file an FIR against Brij Bhushan Sharan and provide security to the protesting wrestlers, but that still does not absolve the Modi government. The last time the Prime Minister cracked such a joke was at a media conclave where the discourse turned to who can be the better Hindi speaker, an English-speaking TV anchor or a Hindi-speaking Prime Minister? Modi-ji cracked the “girl committed suicide” joke and everybody present laughed as if Modi-ji was at the ‘Laughter Challenge’, and not in the midst of serious journalists’ conclave.
Seriously, Modi-ji’s easy camaraderie with some media bigwigs is a matter of concern and it should send disconcerting signals east-west-north-south. The entire bunch of the Noida-based electronic media can go to any lows to protect and honour Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his actions. It’s electrifying, the way they circle the wagons when somebody, anybody, attacks the man with 10 heads wearing a dozen tin hats.
It’s Haryana where Prime Minister Narendra Modi first found easy acceptance among the rustic lot with his highly upstanding daughter-centric and gender-specific “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao Abhiyan’. It fooled everybody, but most of all the Haryana women in “ghunghat”, and Haryana’s elder senior citizens who manned the formidable “khaps”, which had for ages had the last word on all things concerning “Gaonki Chorri”, meaning ‘village girl’.
But it fooled the most actor Aamir Khan, who made the film ‘Dangal’ and it was based on the true tale of glory, Indian-style wrestling filmed for the big screen. The story of two female wrestlers who brought international medals for India, and who are now waiting for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to walk the talk and actually do some of the “Beti Bachao” stuff that so easily escapes the Prime Minister’s elastic lips.
Has Prime Minister Narendra Modi lost touch with ground reality? Cannot he pause for a minute and ask himself “why are these internationally-acclaimed female wrestlers risking all, their honour and their careers; let the police investigate and get to the bottom of it?” But no. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and party will not give the girls a fair hearing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi definitely could with investing in a hearing aid, primarily because the investment will be nothing before all the good that the hearing aid would do to the vulnerable and oppressed people of India, whose grievances are not redressed because they are never heard in the first place. Prime Minister Narendra Modi cannot play deaf and dumb because there is no place for such games in a democracy.
If the Prime Minister can go and give a patient ear to a group of Kerala Christian holy men, and spend time walking on a road waving his thick hairy forearms, it wouldn’t drain him of energy if he picks up the smartphone and speed dials “wrestlers”. Does the Prime Minister know he is doing an unpardonable mistake (sin?) by not addressing the grievances of the hurt women wrestlers?
Nobody is asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to put on a pair of wrestling tights and get on the wrestling mat with MP Brij Bhushan Sharan. Didn’t he watch Aamir Khan’s ‘Dangal’, the way Aamir’s reel character stood up for his “daughters” through all manners of thick and thin? Becoming the Prime Minister does not mean a man stops learning.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi shouldn’t forget he’s “Pradhan Sevak” and he cannot be “sevak” and not do “seva”. The girls sleeping on the Jantar Mantar pavement need a strong decision-maker, not a lethargic lay-about. The common refrain is that Prime Ministers are made of sterner stuff.
And a Prime Minister who claims to draw his inspiration and strength from Sardar Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose cannot be anything but chivalrous. Why put up Sardar Patel’s ‘Unity Statue’, and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s statue at the India Gate, if justice cannot be done to the oppressed.
Why does this Prime Minister wait for things to go to the brink? It is a major flaw in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He lets things slide till they are right at the edge, staring into the abyss. Shaheen Bagh, and Farm Bills are examples. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been floating through his two terms and is left with just a year of his second term.
No Prime Minister should give out the impression he’s a slacker. It demoralizes the people he leads into battles of all sorts. And no Prime Minister should leave his people in distress stemming out of acts of omission and commission that can be traced to him. Elections aren’t won or lost because somebody called a Prime Minister “neech” or “zehreelasaanp”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will prove Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge right if he continues to play snakes and ladders with the lives of the oppressed, and the wronged. (IPA Service)