7.4.09

Mallika rules...and damn the voter


What a charming picture. Mallika Sarabhai is indeed a worthy candidate and she takes on no less than L.K.Advani.

She is contesting as an independent, but like all independents she would not mind joining secular forces. I am not sure what secular forces means any more. Some define it as sarva dharma sambhava (all religions have equal respect) which is rubbish, because the very foundation is to say whose is bigger.

Some say it is separation of state from religion. It doesn’t work in our country where every politician has to go to every place of worship and genuflect before every god or god-like figure, ring bells, light candles, place flowers over tombs. It is a veritable fancy dress competition when they get togged up for iftaar, and Christmas and Diwali “respecting the religious sentiments” of the folks they are going to be fed by. It’s all about food.

Some say you are secular if you don’t believe in god. I know atheists who can be bigots.

Anyhow, coming back to Mallika, I find this carrying a basket to collect money to file for her nomination papers too stagey. As though those dropping notes and coins are genuinely interested. These are people who enjoy a good tamasha as much as she probably did. Or, to be less cynical, they are the already converted.

Had an unknown number indulged in this, it would have been seen as something comic. Because it is a celebrity, it is Commitment.

Now, Mallika is committed – to dance, to her social causes. No doubt about it. But there was one time when she had held a peace meeting and refused to acknowledge that Medha Patkar had been invited only because there was violence and they were beaten up due to Medha’s involvement with the Narmada Bachao Andolan. Later, of course, it became a Mallika issue about being beaten up by Modi’s goons. Patkar had been upstaged.

I see this 'basket case' no differently.

We are watching how our corporate types are being promoted only because they do not have a criminal record and have never been corrupt. How do we know? Will we say the same thing with such certainty if a simple school teacher wanted to contest?

Accept it. We have inbuilt hierarchies and we work strictly along those lines of demarcation.

Mallika could well afford the Rs. 10,000 nomination fee and it does appear like a mockery when we think of, say, a worker at the refugee camp not being able to shell out that money if s/he were interested in contesting. That reminds me: Why would a Mallika or someone in that position not promote one such candidate instead? Would it not send out the right message and in fact be the message itself?

Of course, our dear Sir Salman Rushdie, who is now backing Mallika, would have not given a damn then. Incidentally, what are these prominent backers all about? Aren’t these committed candidates representing the common citizen or are they merely about showing off their liberal faces to each other?

All this sounds like political placebo.

5 comments:

  1. I watched her talking to Barkha Dutt,after announcing her intention to contest against Advani.She appeared to so full of herself,so much convinced about her greatness..The riots and the state of the victims have actually made a fair number of people to be perennially 'shocked,disgusted and ever eager' to fight for the soul of India(whatever that is)

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  2. These are big hyocrites and like film stars get lot of milage.The poor voter does not matter.No one cares about their manifesto, what they will do if elected

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  3. Hi Farzana,
    Thank you for sharing your views.
    Had I wanted to show only my liberal face I would have stopped when my PIL against the Modi regime came to fruition in the forming of the SIT.
    I am a woman and I am a performer. I am proud of both. Why should I not use them to further a campaign against hatred and divisiveness? Why must I reduce myself because of perceptions like yours?
    For many years I have waited for a person of integrity to stand so that I could help them. I am standing because I could find no such person willing to contest here. The fight is tough as hell. Would you be writing this blog about some poor worthy candidate who is unknown? If you would, I could send you a list of people from other parts of India.
    Mallika Sarabhai

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  4. Anon:

    I did not watch the programme. But, tragedies can result ion all kinds of responses. Read my new post.

    KB:

    Alas no one cares about manifestos at all. And what is laid down in those bulky things may never be carried out, so sleep well...

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  5. Hello Mallika:

    Thanks for the response. However, I would like to reply to a few points:

    When I mentioned liberals showing off liberal faces to each other it was with reference to backers of celebrities; I should imagine your PIL against Modi was not just a liberal move, and people of every stripe and ideology need not stop after one victory.

    You say:

    “I am a woman and I am a performer. I am proud of both. Why should I not use them to further a campaign against hatred and divisiveness? Why must I reduce myself because of perceptions like yours?”

    I mentioned both your dance and your involvement with social causes in a positive manner; gender was not referred to at all nor was there any reference to you using/misusing dance. Perceptions such as mine do ask certain questions and the fact that you think they are opposed to your campaign against hatred and divisiveness does in fact amount to reductionism on your part. Nowhere have I questioned those aspects.

    You say:

    “For many years I have waited for a person of integrity to stand so that I could help them. I am standing because I could find no such person willing to contest here. The fight is tough as hell.”

    Isn’t it sad that no one of integrity is willing to contest? After all the noise made about the Zahira Sheikhs and Bilquises, who were pushed into studios like item numbers, activists should be propping them up. I understand the fight is tough as hell.

    There are different kinds of fights and some of us have to fight the mainstream media that will not accept any version other than what they and their response departments want. I have been through it.

    You ask:

    “Would you be writing this blog about some poor worthy candidate who is unknown? If you would, I could send you a list of people from other parts of India.”

    Being poor would not be the only criterion for me (again I talked about someone being able to afford money to file for nominations), but if that candidate fits into my definition of worthy then most certainly I would. (You have only read this one blog post since you are busy. After the elections you might like to go through some of my old stuff – not just blogs, but columns and articles as well – and see that I write more on disadvantaged groups.)

    And if you decide to send me the list, will you also send the same list to the major TV channels and the mainstream newspapers too? As you well know they have a far greater reach. It would make a greater impact if some prominent news channel interviewed a poor worthy unknown candidate (of course they might if s/he has a particularly interesting sob story).

    I hope you have also noted that unlike the big newspaper I did not feel the need to mention the minutiae about who accompanied you for the nominations etc. I wonder if you did not find that reductionist.

    On a lighter note, you are merely accused of being a liberal; when I merely write against Modi or Advani I am called an Islamic apologist.

    Best wishes,
    Farzana

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