This appeared in Asian Age....
Maiyya ki Beemari….
Gods and Goddesses are allowed to fall sick in India.But not our politicians. I have never understood our nervousness over health issues when it comes to our netas. Come on, guys - people fall sick! Everyone deals with illness in some form or the other.We can handle it! But our politicians want the world to believe they are omnipotent superhuman beings who don’t know what it means to be struck by a bug. If possible, they won’t be caught sneezing or sniveling in public lest rivals jump to the worst conclusions and declare them terminally ill. This week’s fiasco in Uttar Pradesh ( not the one you are thinking of), is a case in point. It involved a rather foolish and badly timed hoarding put up by a certain Haseeb Ahmed ( UPCC secretary) and a Srishchand Dubey. Clearly men who need to work on their political savvy. Men so eager to prove their slavish loyalty to Priyanka Gandhi, they forgot all about propriety when they had the temerity to mention the unmentionable – Sonia Gandhi’s poor health. And they did so in crude, unambiguous lingo when they stated the nation’s ‘Maiyya’ was ‘beemar’. All hell broke loose, and two heads promptly rolled. The culprits were suspended and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a still worse fate awaits them, now that the Beemar Bomb has dropped.
While Dilliwallas have known about Madamji’s delicate health for a while, it has become an unwritten diktat that the subject is strictly off limits. The topic is taboo. Even Sonia’s most virulent critics have stayed away from making a reference to her ill health in public. They attack her and the family on nearly every other problem ( Damaad Vadra isn’t being spared , either). But the exact nature of her health issue has been kept under wraps ever since Sonia made that first trip to America for what was called a ‘check up’. Respecting a high profile individual’s right to privacy is one thing. But when that individual happens to be the most powerful person in a country of over a billion people, then, I am sorry, citizens also have the right to know that person’s medical status. Sonia’s health bulletin, in the context of the imminent elections, is definitely of concern to the voter. While nobody wants to pry, it is obligatory on the part of Sonia’s party members to share basic information with us. Information ,that is likely to impact/ influence voting. Let us not pretend Sonia’s health has zero influence on the minds of the electorate. The anxiety is entirely valid. After all, it is she who has created the aura, the lofty position for herself in the country. To put it bluntly – Rahul’s leadership is directly linked to Sonia’s leadership. It is a package deal. People accept it as that. Rahul makes no bones about his mother’s considerable influence over his politics.He made that abundantly clear when he referred to ‘Mummy’s’ reaction to his explosive outburst against the ordinance. He followed that up by declaring his respect for just two individuals – Mummyji and Manmohanji ( an after- thought?). Sonia has been Rahul’s mentor and backbone. Without Mummyji to steer his fledgling political career, Rahul faces serious confidence issues within and outside the Congress Party. Which is precisely why it is of paramount interest to be transparent about Sonia’s health at this critical political stage where every cue, sign and symbol count. Also,where every swing, vote and shift in loyalty can make or break the power structure.
Those jokers who rashly put up the offensive hoarding in the busy Civil Lines area of Allahabad , compounded the original sin by mentioning Bhaiyya Rahul’s overburdened position, implying he’d have to look after his ‘beemar maiyya’ and may not have the time for politics! The idea , of course, was to publicly urge Priyanka Gandhi to contest from Phoolpur , which was her great- grand father Jawaharlal Nehru’s constituency. This clumsy appeal may have been well meaning and typically chamcha-ish. But how it back fired! By the time the punishment was meted out to the two idiots, the damage was done. The story was splashed across India and rapidly opened up the floodgates of speculation. It is still not too late for damage control, though. Party officials should immediately go into a huddle and issue a statement that is transparent and upfront. If the dear lady is indeed very ‘beemar’, we should not burden her further with intrusive questions and additional responsibilities. Just say it like it is, folks. And she’ll be left alone. Her privacy will remain intact and be respected. Right now, there are wild, unsubstantiated rumours doing the rounds. This is in nobody’s interest. The real picture is likely to be far more optimistic with no real grounds for panic and doomsday predictions. This is how it works in a real democracy. When an American President checks into even a dental clinic to get a molar fixed, the public is told about it. The American citizen believes he or she has the right to know when their President requires medical treatment – even if it is for a minor scratch.
It is time for Sonia and her minders to take the nation into confidence and brief citizens regarding her health. We want to know what exactly is wrong with the Congress President. Given the role she plays in all our lives, it is imperative that we are informed. There isn’t a single Indian who won’t wish her a speedy recovery. She should know that.