Am rushing off on a relaxed Sunday morning. Jury duty at MAMI. What a fabulous Film Festival! As Shyam Benegal said to me on the opening night , "This is the closest any Festival has ever got to Cannes, just in terms of the selection of films." I'll be watching L'Amour. More on that later. But I also have the Durga Badi to go to.... Shuvo Pujo, all!
This appeared in Asian Age yesterday...
Blood on the dance floor….?
Our Law (less) Minister, Salman Khurshid must have eaten something really vile earlier this week for him to have made those atrocious remarks against Arvind Kejriwal. A swift qualification here : I am no fan of the self-righteous and embarrassingly naïve Kejriwal. Even so. Indigestion can play havoc with ones better sense. Heaven knows what had been fed to the Ministersaab. Aurally and orally. We are guessing it was most unpalatable, or else he would have kept his cool in the presence of Youth Congress members, while daring his nemesis ( the same Kejriwal) to come to Farroukhabad…. and get back alive! I cannot recall another such incident when a Union Minister has blatantly issued an open threat to an individual who has dared to accuse him of corruption. “ I have been made the Law Minister and asked to work with the pen. I will work with the pen but also with blood,” Khurshid thundered, much to the utter astonishment of his audience. Let’s deconstruct that preposterous remark. Was it really a veiled threat to murder Kejriwal? I think not. When a murder is being plotted, it isn’t announced in advance. So, let’s not get melodramatic here. What really happened? Here’s a possible scenario: Salman Khurshid lost his cool, lost his shirt, lost control. And revealed his true colours! Perhaps, inside that smooth, suave exterior, there was always a ‘mafia don’( not my words) lurking just beneath the carefully cultivated surface. Suddenly, that glossy veneer has gone phut. The man stands exposed , using the ‘language of a common criminal’ ( quote-unquote, a spokesperson for India Against Corruption). Khurshid made it worse by bleating, “ I have been misquoted…” further compounding the original boo boo and sounding alarmingly like a miffed Bollywood starlet. Come on, Salman. Stand up…. own up. It’s on camera. Be a man. It can happen to anyone. Particularly, a cornered chap. And let’s face it, you are cornered. Whether it is 70 lakhs, 70 crores or 7000 crores ka gunha hardly matters. The point is, certain serious charges have been leveled against you… what those charges have done is to draw public attention to your NGO’s functioning. Once a can of worms gets pried open, it’s pretty difficult to reseal it or seal the mouths of detractors.
If the charges are followed up by Kejriwal and team in Farrukhabad, and the charges stick, then sorry buddy, the party’s over for you and Louise. If matters get buried and some other scandal raises its ugly head ( Bigger! Juicier!), one thing will still remain : your unmasked persona. For years and years, you have traded on a cleverly built up image of great refinement and intellect, designed to separate you from the unwashed, uncouth rabble rousers in politics. Your accent, your mannerisms, your choice of words! Wow! Even I was fooled. Well , all it takes these days is one unfortunate slip. Just one. And you, Sir, our hallowed Law Minister, made it.
Now what? Kejriwal and company are going to town with the story. It is being projected as a ‘murder threat’ ( calm down, you guys!). Arvind’s quotes, (“ My death is in God’s hands, not in Salman Khurshid’s ”) are being shrewdly played up. Kejriwal’s very vocal supporters are simultaneously going flat out to milk Khurshid’s aggressive remarks…. and presswallas are lovin’ it! Kejriwal’s filmi- ishstyle dialogues (“ Killing me won’t help… if one Arvind is killed, there will be another 100 Arvinds”) are also being lapped up and played out over and over again. In all this dramabaazi, other targets of the IAC , like Nitin Gadkari and Ajit Pawar, are waiting for the hungama to subside. Meanwhile, Sushma Swaraj is straining her larynx, issuing spirited denials on heavyweight Gadkari’s behalf. The person who has shot into the national limelight virtually overnight is Anjali Damania, Kejriwal’s able colleague (never mind that she herself is facing some land issues). To add to the khichdi, ex-cop Y.P.Singh has thrown his topi into the ring and is asking Kejriwal a few tough questions relating to Sharad Pawar and Lavasa. That makes it two tagda heavyweights ( Gadkari and Pawar) to deal with. The thing is, with so much dirt flying around, can the Mango People handle it? Will we even remember what this was all about, same time, next week? Can any of these grim charges stick? What about a meticulous follow-up? Kejriwal is no politician. Undoubtedly, the more seasoned players will find a way to wiggle out of this unholy mess, leaving him at the gate post, looking small and foolish. It takes much more than audacious accusations hurled against the high and mighty to bring about a moral revolution. Arvind is seen as a wet-behind-the-ears bachcha trying hard to play with the big boys. Forget Elections 2014. One wonders whether his people’s party will survive the year. Sad. But sach ka samaana sab ko karna padta hai. Arvindji ko bhi…