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The Shivraj Singh Chouhan school of politics: What Hema Malini could learn from it

He came, he promised a government job, he left. Shivraj Singh Chouhan's appearance at Aaj Tak journalist Akshay Singh's residence in Delhi to pay his respects to the journalist was indeed long overdue. But for the Madhya Pradesh chief minister, who is facing allegations ranging from shielding those behind mysterious deaths, including that of Singh, to being part of one of the state's biggest scams, it was a welcome break to show off his humanitarian side.

"It is my life's mission to find out the truth, which is why I sent (Akshay Singh's) viscera samples to AIIMS," the chief minister declared after visiting the family.

"This family has lost everything. I assured the family of an unbiased investigation into Akshay's death. I will do whatever to lessen their pain. I offered them jobs in the city and other help," Chouhan also said.

 The Shivraj Singh Chouhan school of politics: What Hema Malini could learn from it

AFP image

The Chief Minister has been under fire for the last couple of weeks with little aid from his own party leaders. PM Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah have not supported him in public and former chief minister Uma Bharti even claimed she was 'scared' as the death toll mounted in the case.

Chouhan's not even the first politician to visit the journalist's family since his still mysterious death while reporting on the Vyapam scam. Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal already made their presence felt at the journalist's funeral. He's also not the first to offer a job, since the Delhi chief minister also made a similar offer. And he's not even walked away with tears of gratitude from the family for his obvious attempt at giving himself a PR boost.

"The Chief Minister reached our residence at 8.50 in the morning and left by around 9.05 AM. He expressed his concern and sensitivity. But after all, he is a politician and we need to judge him by his act," the journalist's sister said. Singh's mother said that they didn't want a job and just a fair probe.

As Firstpost's Sandip Roy noted in his piece earlier, Chouhan himself in the past vacillated between protesting "not all deaths should be linked to Vyapam" and claiming credit by saying he “ordered” the probe with "pavitra intent" or pure intentions. The chief minister's party leaders in Madhya Pradesh and outside have excelled at putting both feet in their mouth since the media focus on the case intensified and even Chouhan came across as being callous about the deaths.

But despite the response from the kin of the journalist, Chouhan's gesture at least has an appearance of of empathy in a case where most politicians, including the MP chief minister himself, have only managed to put their foot in their mouth in the past. Finally what one expects from a politician is empathy, not necessarily a solution or solving a crime. Like his own Prime Minister likes to note: Der aaye magar durust aaye. 

Perhaps the best candidate to take a page out of Chouhan's playbook is his own party's actor-turned-MP Hema Malini, who successfully managed to throw away any goodwill she may have had after the Dausa accident with just 140 characters. Her timing was terrible given the controversy was largely forgotten and the matter seemed to have been laid to rest, until she took to Twitter.

With her tweet blaming the father of the child who dies in the 2 July accident, the BJP MP, as Firstpost's Deepanjana Pal pointed out, "painted herself into a corner by behaving like a Bollywood star -- she made an exhibition of her privileged status the way actors do conventionally. She got preferential treatment for herself and largely ignored what happened to the hoi polloi that she left behind at the scene of the accident until she was ready to deal with them."

Malini, as Pal pointed out, is no newbie BJP MP either having represented the party in Parliament since 2004 and perhaps needs a primary course in 'How to be a Politician 101'. Thankfully for her, there's evidently a teacher in her own party. The only thing he perhaps needs to learn, like Hema Malini, is a thing or two about timing it right.

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Updated Date: Jul 09, 2015 15:43:49 IST