In the great cosmic sense the latest episode in 'huglomacy' is of no great consequence. As an optic for most Indians, it sucks big time. Punjab's Congress minister Navjot Singh Sidhu splashed into hot water when he was caught on camera in a full-on hug with Pakistan army chief General Qamer Javed Bajwa. As politicians and the public clambered into the act and decided to rake him over the coals for his insensitivity to the Indian armed forces in doing so, Sidhu put a positive twist on the expression of affection. In one quick move, he turned himself into a white dove and an emissary of peace.
It was a deft interpretation and adding to his denial that he was anything but a pacifist, Sidhu made it look like Bajwa was the instigator and wanted to use him to give India a message of love and positive vibes.
There are not going to be many takers for this scenario and many may even laugh at the fact that the four star actual head of the state would choose to let India know of its good intentions for the future you cannot blame Sidhu for giving it the old college try as demands for his dismissal gather steam.
He will probably survive the attack since no one truly cares that much and even for those who do, Sidhu is not a rising star or a statesman of grand design.
To be fair, having accepted the invitation and being the only Indian to do so, he should have known the occasion would be rife with awkward moments. What do you if a General decides to give you the good ol’ buddy treatment? You can hardly withdraw or refuse the gesture so you hug back. You are in their territory enjoying their hospitality so expect to be back-slapped for being unconventional and fetching up.
It reminds one of a famous Indian journalist in the Gulf who was introduced to a don’s brother and cheerfully and enthusiastically shook his hand only later realising he had been filmed and spent the rest of the evening in grand panic.
The other high profile celebs like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev probably were smart enough to figure out that there was a downside to going to Islamabad after actor Aamir Khan stymied them with a no way.
But Sidhu wanted to go to the inauguration and he did. If anything that is where he erred. There has been no indication from the Pakistan side of any grand change in its policies to India nor has the Ministry of External Affairs received any indication that it is forthcoming. In light of that and the current tension on the border with four deaths last week and no action against the terror camps perhaps the Sidhu decision was indiscreet and unnecessary. More importantly, when the nation itself and the government are playing it lowkey then as an elected representative of a state and its people you are on longer a private individual and you are duty-bound to take into account public opinion and sentiment before traipsing off on your own.
Somewhere, even if it is forgotten, Sidhu shot himself in the foot and no one is laughing.
Updated Date: Aug 20, 2018 20:38 PM