BJP MP thrashes party MLA with shoe in Uttar Pradesh: Footwear has had a long history as a tool for political protest

However, what the incident brought to the fore is that how a shoe has been making unexpected appearance in public domain and has been used both as a means of protest and as a rude insult to make a political point

FP Staff March 07, 2019 12:22:23 IST
BJP MP thrashes party MLA with shoe in Uttar Pradesh: Footwear has had a long history as a tool for political protest
  • UP's lawmakers' fight brought to the fore how a shoe has been making unexpected appearance in public domain

  • It has been used both as a means of protest and as a rude insult to make a political point

  • Or sometimes its appearance is simply the result of a diplomatic blunder

When two elected representatives of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh came to blows while on camera — with an MP hitting another MLA with his shoe — during the district planning committee meeting, other participants of the meeting were left stunned and the party red-faced.

The incident was from Wednesday when Sant Kabir Nagar MP Sharad Tripathi and Mehdawal MLA Rakesh Baghel got into an argument at the meeting over taking credit for a newly laid road. After a brief exchange of words, the MP got up from his seat and began thrashing the MLA with his shoe, as tv cameras recorded the episode. The MLA reacted and returned a few blows.

However, what the incident brought to the fore is that how a shoe has been making unexpected appearance in public domain and has been used both as a means of protest and as a rude insult to make a political point. Or sometimes its appearance is simply the result of a diplomatic blunder.

BJP MP thrashes party MLA with shoe in Uttar Pradesh Footwear has had a long history as a tool for political protest

Israeli celebrity chef Segev Moshe dished up a gourmet spread for Shinzo Abe and his wife which was rounded off with chocolate pralines served in two pairs of men’s black brogues. Instagram @segevmoshe

Dessert in a shoe

An Israeli chef managed to offend Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Aki during their state visit to Israel in May 2018. After the meal, celebrity chef Segev Moshe — who often cooks for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara when they are entertaining visiting dignitaries — dished up a gourmet spread which was rounded off with chocolate pralines served in two pairs of men’s black brogues. Only, the trouble was that culturally, the Japanese are particularly repulsed by the placing of a shoe in living spaces, let alone the dining table, and the move counted as one of the most hilarious diplomatic faux pas in recent times.

Obviously, the dessert did not go down well with both Israeli and Japanese officials. "There is nothing more despicable in Japanese culture than a shoe," senior Israel diplomat was quoted by the report as saying. "Not only do they not enter their homes in shoes, you won’t find any shoes in their bureaus. Even the prime minister, ministers, and members of Parliament, host in their bureaus without shoes. This is a failure and a diplomatic mockery. A disrespect of the highest order." "It is like giving a Jewish guest chocolate inside a vessel in the shape of a pig,” he said.

When George W Bush dodged a shoe while Iraqi PM tried to catch it

George W Bush II's last official visit to Iraq as President of the United States was sullied when an Iraqi reporter called him a “dog” and threw his shoes at him during a press conference in Baghdad.

The trip was meant to be a farewell visit to Baghdad, seeking to mark greater security in Iraq after years of bloodshed. However, it was mostly remembered for the unscripted moment when the journalist Muntader al-Zaidi hurled his shoes at Bush's head and shouted in Arabic: “This is a gift from the Iraqis; this is the farewell kiss, you dog!”

That shoe also narrowly missed Bush as Israeli prime minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stuck a hand in front of the president’s face to help shield him. The image is still plastered on in people's memory who were watching the key joint presser live across the world.

Flying footwear in Pervez Musharraf's face

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf came under a shoe attack thrice. The first such attack came in February 2011, when a man threw a shoe at Musharraf when he was addressing a gathering in Britain.

In November 2011, another man tried to hurl his shoe at Musharraf when he was addressing a gathering of Kashmiris in London.

Then, in March 2013, a Karachi lawyer named Tajammul Lodhi flung his shoe at  him because he "hated Musharraf for trying to destroy democracy in Pakistan." Musharraf who came to power on the back of military coup in 1999 was in court to deal with one of three cases against him, one of which involves the 2007 assassination of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Former Taiwan premier Ma Ying-jeou faced shoe attack nine times 

Perhaps nobody has had it more than former Taiwanese (also known as the Republic of China) president Ma Ying-jeou who has faced such attacks at least nine times. In fact, as BBC reported that so many protesters used to hurl shoes at him during his public appearances in his second and final term as president that police put up protective nets around him whenever he spoke in public. He faced protests over Taiwan's economic performance and a controversial services trade agreement with China.

Garland of shoes

A BJP candidate was faced with people's wrath in Madhya Pradesh's Dharmod when people garlanded him with shoes to mark their protests. The BJP candidate for Dhamnod civic election, Dinesh Sharma was campaigning door-to-door to seek votes for his party in January 2018 when a bunch of angry voters put a garland of shoes around his neck. The man who made him wear the garland says he wanted to highlight the acute water problem in the region.

When a sitting chief minister was assaulted with a shoe

Ink, slaps, eggs, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal has frequently been the target of attacks ever since he entered politics. A shoe was also hurled at him while he was addressing a press conference inside the Secretariat in April 2016. The man alleged something about a sting operation on a CNG scam before he hurled the shoe which fell on the table in front of Kejriwal. The attacker was whisked away by Secretariat officials before being detained by police. The man, identified as Ved Sharma, claimed he was from Aam Aadmi Sena, a breakaway faction of AAP. In the aftermath of these attacks, Kejriwal was granted Z plus security and the Delhi Secretariat made it mandatory for only Delhi Information Bureau accredited journalists to be allowed inside the Secretariat premises.

Even sitting PM's security not shoe proof 

Manmohan Singh, generally appreciated as an upright and soft-spoken politician even amid his opponents, also faced a shoe attack during the 2009 general election campaign in Ahmedabad. A computer engineering student hurled a sneaker at him but it fell short of the dais from where he was addressing his first poll rally in Gujarat in April 2009. The incident had the Special Protection Group (SPG) and other security personnel in a tizzy, however, Singh maintained his usual composure and asked the police not to register any case against the shoe thrower identified as Hitesh Chauhan, a 21-year-old resident of Bapunagar.

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