Can Sumitra Mahajan explain why she let Ravindra Gakwad off the hook?

Nothing is as amazing in politics as things being hushed up. I have always wondered how after the proverbial shit has hit the fan how these incidents are guided to the backburner. Who are these husher uppers and how do they manipulate things to ensure the stench of the scandal fades away. Do they sort of meet in a room and hatch a Machiavellian strategy based on the frail nature of public memory or the lack of expectation thereof from those they elect to power?

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Vishwanath Gaikwad. Image courtesy: National Portal of India

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Vishwanath Gaikwad. Image courtesy: National Portal of India

Take the case of Ravindra Gaikwad where the worthy gentleman has not even disclosed whether the controversial Air India ticket was one of the 34 freebies he gets as an elected Member of Parliament (they all do, all 552 of them) annually from the taxpayers, one of whom he struck 25 times with his sandal.

Technically, the Air India staffer who was struck could have paid for this ticket.

Gaikwad also gets unlimited A/C travel and he can literally careen about the country in an air-conditioned compartment every night of the year if he so pleases. Would it not be interesting for him to let the people know that they paid for his ticket and that having spent not a penny from his own pocket it makes him twice as culpable for his misconduct.

He did not earn this right to all these free flights by discovering a cure for the common cold or making a scientific discovery but because he was elected as a representative of the people. The same people for whom he has very little respect. It is not his birthright, he is not some prince with entitlement granted by decree. And if this possibility that he was travelling on a free ticket is a minor source of technical discomfort what about the curious and debilitating fact that his 554 peers have not been able or felt inclined to see this rank misbehaviour as a negative reflection on the dignity of the House.

When elected leaders in a democracy resort to physical violence against members of the public their peers are duty bound to protect not just the image of the parliament but themselves regardless of the political mathematics. As much as Gaikwad has brought shame upon the public by treating them so shabbily he has done much the same to every member of the House per se and especially those of his political ilk who have chosen expediency over the democratic norm. This is where the husher-uppers come in. Oh, it will blow over in a few days. It’s all cosmetic really, the airlines will relent, let them feel brave and feisty, it isn’t as if any of them have ordered a life ban, by next month he’ll be back in business, the winner by a TKO.

Even more hurtful is the Speaker Sumitra Mahajan’s role in not passing any censure against a member who was outrageous and proud of it. She has been unable to provide justice to the victim Sukumar who having been squeezed dry by media and is now worth as much as a used tissue and will increase in nuisance value until he surrenders and submits to the pressures put upon him.

The lesson is clear. Members of Parliament are sacrosanct and can engage in hostile practices against the people they serve with little fear of retribution if they are in the right party at the right time. They will close ranks.

So this will happen again and again and again in many forms and the public will have to take it. Imagine, if you will, what would have happened if Sukumar had whacked Gaikwad instead. There would have been a motion in the House, waves of shock and dismay and a howl of protest to lynch him.

The least he would have been arrested. Why doesn’t sauce for the goose be the same for the Gaikwad.

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Updated Date: Mar 30, 2017 21:54:41 IST

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