Politics, the last resort of scoundrels, is not just a notorious arena of foulplay but is also a fertile ground for foul-ups. The prevailing pollscape promises to be a perfect season for bloomers to bloom, with party leaders stumbling and fumbling their way through the dust and din of the hustings.
Even before this poll time, in the last few years, Rahul Gandhi topped the charts as the best bungler, and the most hilarious herald of howlers. Naturally endowed with the gift of the gaffe, his famous faux pas were both visual and verbal. For instance, he hugged the wrong woman, a clueless observer, when he went to console the relatives of victims of some riot. This US-educated leader of All Italian Congress Committee could not tell the difference between potato and potato chips. Whenever he speaks in a farmers’ rally, he talks of factories. Once he even promised to build a ‘drug’ factory to help farmers.
Pre-poll, the rational TN leaders proved themselves as master muffs. CM Edappadi, with full literary conviction, said Sekkizhar’s Kamba Ramayanam, thus creating a unique poetic alliance post facto, thousand years to be precise. All ministers on stage referred to a singer’s name in all possible wrong combinations, an embarrassing public abaswaram of sorts. Another AIADMK worthy said ‘Prime Minister MGR’, and followed it up by saying that CM Edappadi welcomed the budget tabled by Vajpayee. According to him, Deputy Speaker Thambidurai will go to ‘New Delhi to speak with Prime Minister Narasimha Rao’.
Not to be outdone was Opposition leader Stalin, who, for instance, once said ‘when I was deputy chief minister of Japan’. He has become the meme-makers’ dependable Man Friday for overturning many popular proverbs. So, cat on the wall becomes wall on the cat. For him, the elephant came first followed by the sound of its bell. But all were floored when he spoke in chaste Bengali in Kolkata. What a fall from the times of J & K who for all their faults, and often ferocious utterings, never allowed a slip of their acid tongue.
Just a week into poll mode and the leaders are already thronging the territory of errors with fervour. The AIADMK having stitched up an alliance with the BJP, was the first off the block with a minister declaring: ‘Modi is our daddy since our Amma is no longer there.’ Whatever it means!
Stalin is yet to find the answer for the elusive question: ‘What is sour? The mango or the mouth?’ though he is quite sure he is K’s son. Demanding change of date for TN polls, he reduced Kallazhagar to ‘Kalla’ or worse ‘Kallu’. In the grand public rally of the DMK alliance, he referred to Kamarajar as Kamar. He then intoned: ‘We support you because you are not Modi. But you are Rahul, you are Rahul, you are Rahul.’ Rahul seemed desperately in need of a mirror for confirmation.
Vaiko for his part, turned to Rahul and screamed in his voluble, ear-splitting baritone, ‘Honourable Thiru Rahul Modi Avargale’ and then quickly corrected the goof with Rahul ‘Gandhi’, a historic goof. Unfortunately, we might miss the scotch, pardon, botch, Captain V’Kanth’s mix-ups. By the looks of him, V can’t!
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi, addressing students at a city women’s college, declared from a high pulpit to the girls straining their necks upwards: ‘Look at the world not from your position but look at the world from your position.’ Now, not just the college faculty but the entire academic fraternity are trying to figure out the ‘difference’ in what Rahul said. It could probably mean ‘Know thyself’. But given Rahul’s IQ one would not hazard to attribute such a profound thought to him. He also preached in a saintly tone that he hugged Modi in order to return love for hatred. No one in that choreographed event bothered to ask Rahul if he would extend a similar embrace of love to butcher ‘Masood Azhar ji’.
In the aforesaid public rally, he said: ‘India is like the ocean over here. We want to listen to the ocean, we want to understand the ocean, and we want to work with the ocean.’ He was probably inspired by Kanyakumari. But the supposedly apt metaphor did not sit well on this famous flubber. The way he messed up Thirumavalavan’s name, almost making a lullaby out of it, would have become an alliance-breaker. Modi, for his part, in a rare blooper, said Karachi, instead of Kochi, in Kerala.
In a way I pity the northern netas. Theirs own apart, the distortion of their chosen words can be attributed to translators who are invariably local leaders. The Dravidians are giving it back to the Aryans in all verbal vengeance. When BJP leader Amit Shah talked of ‘drip irrigation’, H Raja, in all sincerity, translated it as ‘siruneer pasanam’ (urine irrigation). Congress leader Thangkabalu made a complete mockery of Rahul’s speech by saying things that Rahul never said. It was a parallel speech. For instance, when Rahul said he respects the people of TN, T’balu translated it ‘Modi is the enemy of Tamilnadu’. The sight of the mike itself falling limp frequently and T’balu jumping back and forth as in a folk dance were a rib-tickling laugh riot.
Clearly, much fun awaits us as more Jis blunder into this land of Annans. Many of them think they are right and don’t realise, and much less accept, they have made a mistake. In their support, we must, of course, concede that we cannot blame these leaders. Always in public glare and under the eagle eyes of the media, particularly the ubiquitous social media, even a slight shift of the eyelid or a tired yawn could get them into this packed hall of ignominious infamy.
But then does not the media have its share of gaffes? Does it not often misquote a wrong quote? Does it not confuse as much as politicos do? Anyway, I for one would not blame either Rahul Modi or Narendra Gandhi nor the Bharatiya Janata Congress or Cong Parivar. If DMK leader Lenin attacks CM Anbumani, it is PMK leader EPS, namely Edappadi Palaniselvam’s problem.
And if voters are not careful, by poll-eve we will all be lost in translation. So, with this, I conclude my Mann Ki Baat. I don’t care if H Raja or T’balu claims that a monkey is taking bath.
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