Shirtless for Sumitra: The Congress party's semi-naked plan to intimidate the speaker

When Lok Sabha speaker, Sumitra Mahajan suspended 25 Congress MPs for 5 days for not adhering to House rules and being an assault on the Lok Sabha’s senses, little did she realise the domino effect this would have on the nation’s finer sensibilities. The MPs had been suspended for “wilfully obstructing the business of the House”, while asking for the resignation of Sushma Swaraj, the only External Affairs minister whose role model is Florence Nightingale, and for Shivraj Chouhan’s head. Much like BJP would have done if roles had been reversed.

What followed, however, was a theatre of the absurd that surely even Mahajan had not expected. Then again, anything related to Lalit Modi – he of the Tourette’s Syndrome-esque tweets and strange Instagram posts – usually deteriorates into farce.

First off, Rahul Gandhi led the charge, kicking irony on its posterior as he claimed  that the Opposition’s “voice” was being suppressed in Parliament. His angst is understandable for someone who has finally found his voice and cockiness – if not debate skills. The usually sedate Sonia Gandhi decided that dignity be damned and take her cue from  Mamata Banerjee. She took to the streets with her merry band of Congress men, waving her fist in the air while protesting the “murder of democracy”, even as a decidedly uncomfortable looking Manmohan Singh stood by her side,likely wondering why he can’t just be allowed to retire in peace.

But none of these bizarre images could prepare us for what was beamed onto our TV screens yesterday.

The Youth Congress  spent 48 hours coming up with a capital plan (pun unintended) to show their support for their MPs. But this would be no ordinary protest. Taking a leaf out of a Chippendale show, 300 workers of the Youth Congress decided to protest shirtless at Jantar Mantar. Some of them even turned up outside Sumitra Mahajan’s house, only to be water-cannoned.

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While Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh protesting AAP-style makes for strange viewing, it still falls under the rubric of politics as usual. But stripping in the interest of justice is a whole new paradigm – albeit of an absurd variety.

The protest looked like a flash mob of hundreds of Salman Khan fans ready to swivel their hips.

But what gives? What transpired in the Youth Congress meeting, where this momentous decision to go shirtless was taken? Did they decide, “Itni garami mein, nanga protest best rahega!”? Or maybe this was a diktat from high command: Since our brains are scarce, let’s flash some brawn.

Or maybe the Youth Congress was making a deep philosophical and political point: by stripping down and exposing their vulnerable bodies, they’re drawing attention to how Sumitra Mahajan has stripped democracy much like Draupadi. Or maybe it was meant as a show of brawn, and readiness to literally muscle their MPs back into Parliament. Or could it be that Youth Congress workers are  secret fans of the feminist group, Femen, and believe that nude protests are required to right the wrongs of the world – or in this case the Parliament. If Femen can strip down to their undies in front of the Eiffel Tower, why can’t our Congress boys do so in front of Sumitra Mahajan’s house – all the while screaming 'You can take our clothes, but you cannot take away our freedom.'

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Okay, so I made up the last bit – but surely that kind of naarebaazi is not far off now that we are firmly in the territory of the surreal. Maybe the next time, the Congress big boys (and girls) will also join them, perhaps in a short-less rally for justice.  A Congress protest in kacchas  led by Manmohan and Rahul. Ah, a girl can only dream.... not!

But let's not deride our bare-chested Congressmen for if there is one thing that will make the BJP think twice before chucking out MPs, it the sight of 300 shirtless, hairless, muscled Youth Congress workers, most probably reeking of sweat in the Delhi heat. If anything can make Sumitra Mahajan change her mind, it is likely the desperate desire to get them to put their shirts back on. Nothing, I repeat nothing, is worth this assault on the optics.


Published Date: Aug 07, 2015 02:58 pm | Updated Date: Aug 07, 2015 02:59 pm