There's nothing quite like a sex tape to ruin a career. A video showing a powerful man at his weakest moment — not to mention without clothes — can be quite a weapon, and in the hands of a cunning adversary who knows how to use it, it can take down the best of them.
This past week, it was the turn of Hardik Patel to find out just how damaging a sex tape can be to one's political fortunes. The 23-year-old Patidar leader from Gujarat was seemingly caught in a compromising position with a woman in the tape. And although Hardik has been claiming his innocence, alleging that the video is "morphed" and features not him but a man "who resembles him", the Opposition has suddenly found new ammunition to attack him.
The Opposition BJP and Hardik's former aide-turned-rival Ashwin Patel have been demanding he come clean on these allegations. Ashwin said he has more evidence on videotape — throwing up the pleasant possibility that another sextape may soon be flooding the airwaves — and gave Hardik a four-day deadline to "prove his innocence", as a report on The Quint said.
Which is exactly where we come in. To prove his innocence regarding what, exactly? What is he supposed to be guilty of? Of sexual intercourse with a woman? There has been no evidence of it being anything but consensual. There is no evidence of the girl being underage. There is no evidence of Hardik being underage. What exactly is the problem?
Indeed, Hardik himself seemed to suggest as much. In an interview with The Indian Express, the Patidar leader said, "These are videos that have been created with a man who resembles me. However, even if we assume that it was indeed I in the video, I want to ask, can't a 23-year-old youth have girlfriends? If a 23-year-old cannot have girlfriends, will a 50-year-old have girlfriends?"
Fair enough. Unless, of course, the only problem we have with this is that he is still unmarried and is yet indulging in carnal activities, the likes of which distract a straight-thinking brahmachari from the path of justice and righteousness.
And if they do take such a moral high ground, they'd be on extremely shaky ground. Can all those accusing Hardik of premarital sex honestly claim they are as virginal as the day they were born? Even if they manage to answer in the affirmative, can they be confident their children/neighbours/friends/casual acquaintances also look at the female form and turn the other way? Can they run the risk of being branded a vile hypocrite just to score a cheap political point over a 23-year-old?
And herein lies Hardik's political opportunity. He should just continue saying what he has been; claim there is nothing wrong or immoral about premarital sex. Because there really isn't. It's not criminalised by the law or the courts, and is being practiced behind closed doors by pretty much everybody. By coming out and accepting this, he could be taking first dibs on a political stand which currently has nobody around it.
At a time when India's political spectrum is full of parties and leaders competing to outdo each other on the 'who can be more conservative' stakes, Hardik can be a beacon of liberalism. At 23, he is already among the youngest leaders in the mainstream, and if he acts his age, it can only be a good thing.
At the very least, even if we are to be cynical about this and look at everything through a political lens, he will get a sizeable chunk of votes from those Indians indulging in premarital sex. As this report in Hindustan Times shows, "a majority of Indians do approve" of premarital sex.
There you have it, Hardik. An exciting new political angle for you to adopt as your own. You're unlikely to ever face competition for this; it's bound to give you a loyal support base, and you will be seen as the only man who actually and literally practices what he preaches.
Updated Date: Nov 17, 2017 12:16:35 IST