Karnataka: Siddaramaiah in dilemma after Education Minister Tanveer Sait caught watching porn during Tipu Jayanti - Firstpost
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Karnataka: Siddaramaiah in dilemma after Education Minister Tanveer Sait caught watching porn during Tipu Jayanti


At Nandi Hills, one of the popular tourist spots in Karnataka about 60 km from Bengaluru, people often flock to see Tipu's Drop. This is the spot from where the Tiger of Mysore apparently used to get condemned prisoners thrown to their death.

Is Tanveer Sait, Karnataka's education minister, likely to be a Tipu's Drop? During Tipu Jayanti celebrations in Raichur, Sait was caught on camera flipping through some sleazy images on his mobile phone. The images captured by a local TV channel camera went viral. The minister has now been summoned by boss Siddaramaiah to give an explanation and if it is found unsatisfactory, Sait's political career may die a temporary death.

File image of chief minister siddaramaiah. News18

File image of chief minister siddaramaiah. News18

The fact that he is the state's education minister makes his position that much more untenable. As a witty comment on Facebook noted, Sait had no business to 'porntificate'.

The BJP, in tit-for-tat mode, is baying for Sait's blood, asking the Congress to take a leaf out of its book. In February 2012, three BJP ministers in Sadananda Gowda's Cabinet, were found surfing porn inside the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. The BJP came under attack for the disgraceful conduct of the ministers, which included CC Patil, who held the portfolio of women and child welfare. All three were forced to resign under pressure from both the Opposition and the public.

Among those who had demanded the immediate resignation of the three ministers was Siddaramaiah, then the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. That makes it even more difficult for the CM now to adopt a different set of standards on Sait's sleazegate.

Sait has pleaded innocence claiming it was a forward he received on WhatsApp that he happened to glance at. "My entire concentration was on the Tipu celebration. I hardly looked at the WhatsApp message,'' said Sait. On his part, Siddaramaiah has sought to draw a distinction between ministers watching porn inside the Assembly and at a public function. The problem is only the CM seems to be in a position to see the difference.

At the end of the day, whether Siddaramaiah will show Sait the door has to be a political decision. The Muslim leader is an important cog in the CM's wheel in Mysuru district, where he hails from. Sait's late father was a political heavyweight from the district.

Already the district has lost veteran Dalit leader Srinivas Prasad, who quit the party after he was dropped from the ministry. Prasad was miffed at Siddaramaiah, and in the manner he removed Prasad as minister, and humiliated him. Now dropping Sait too will be seen as a humiliation and it would mean taking a chance with the Dalit and Muslim community votes.

Another factor is that a by-election will soon be held in Nanjangud, Prasad's reserved constituency. Prasad will contest on the BJP ticket and Siddaramaiah cannot afford to lose a by-poll in his backyard. Sait's exit and resultant sulking could affect the party candidate's chances.

There is also the possibility that Siddaramaiah is looking at two constituencies to contest from in 2018. He could vacate Varuna for his son Dr Yathindra and move back to Chamundeswari, both in Mysuru district. He will have to make all these calculations before taking a call on Sait.

But beyond the outrage on social media, does a porn scandal impact a politician's career? The jury is out on that one. Of the three BJP ministers, only Savadi returned to the Karnataka Assembly in the 2013 state election. But it is difficult to say if the porn issue played a part. The anti-incumbency against the then BJP government was seen as the reason why the party slipped to 40 seats in the Assembly.

Another school of thought argues that the smartphone era and the success of Donald Trump, in the light of the misogynistic things he said during the American presidential campaign, has made people more accepting of such transgressions. While Sait's conduct does not behove an elected representative in a public space, the counter argument is that in the common man's perception, bad is perhaps the new good. Trump is an example of that and stretching the same argument, so perhaps is Laxman Savadi.

The Congress is unlikely to break into a sweat over the commentary of morality that is heard in Karnataka now. If pressed, it will only highlight that the scorecard in the 'porn match' still reads BJP 3, Congress 1.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 16:06 IST

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