The Childish Burns of the Indian Politician


The Childish Burns of the Indian Politician

Illustration: Ahmed Sikander

Shouts of “Chor! Chor!” echoed across the playground as the two rival groups hurled insults at each other. Actually, the playground is the Indian political arena, and the latest ruckus has broken out after Rahul Gandhi’s comments on the Rafale scam led to #MeraPMChorHai trending on Twitter. Since defence ministers must also defend their party’s reputation, Nirmala Sitharaman jumped in with a trending hashtag of her own: #RahulKaPooraKhandanChor, in the process writing another chapter in the saga of playground insults being the lingua franca of Indian politicians.

The entire affair is reminiscent of the last time the class teacher of this rowdy bunch, the Election Commission, had to step in to pull the combatants apart. Last November, the BJP wanted to use their favourite nickname for Rahul Gandhi for a character in one of their campaign ads in an overheated Gujarat gearing up for state elections.

The BJP’s plans, however, were thwarted by the commission on the grounds that the nickname was derogatory toward “a specific person who is commonly known by that name.” I don’t envy the Election Commission’s job of ensuring the democratic process is conducted with due dignity, because our political landscape is beginning to resemble a school playground overrun by sugar-fuelled, hyperactive, and aggressive children.

Look at what happened with Hardik Patel last year. He had been filmed visiting a hotel in the company of a woman. Of course, going by the rule that ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte, Hardik’s playground rivals leaked a sex tape of his tryst. They did it with the intent that having sex while in politics, would yield the same effect as having cooties does on the playground. The rivals operated on the schoolyard principle of sex = hawww, chanting “Hardik and Unidentified Lady sitting on a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G” in the hopes of claiming the playground as their turf.

Stuck in the middle of this storm of “gaandos” and “pappus”, the poor EC can only watch her unruly students regress into immature brats

Conquering the playground is the goal of all children, no matter who they’re sharing their dabba with at the moment, and insults and discrediting rivals is the route to power. Take Sidharth Nath Singh (a member of the Kamal group), and his attack on poor Rahul Gandhi, who is bullied very often on this playground. Singh said that Gandhi needs to “grow up and get out of diapers”.

Rushing to the defence, and hoping to score some brownie points within his own group (The Famous Five Fingers) Raj Babbar called Singh a dirty child “who licks the snot when his nose is running instead of using his hand to wipe it clean.” We couldn’t make this shit up if we tried. The only thing missing was a Yo Momma joke to make this the most savage playground insult in recent memory. While Raj Babbar and The Famous Five Fingers group might not resort to the insults as much their rivals Kamal and gang, they do have their own heavy hitters like Digvijaya Singh and Beni Prasad Verma. Digvijaya likes to retweet offensive memes against the leader of the Kamal crew, while Beni goes down the usual route of name-calling.

Stuck in the middle of this storm of “gaandos” and “pappus”, the poor EC can only watch her unruly students regress into immature brats and hope that no one gets hurt. The only way they can manage to stay calm is by reminding themselves that no matter how bad things are in our playground, at least they’re not working at the international school a few blocks away. Rumour has it that a long-running war of words between a badly behaved American student and an even worse North Korean student is about to get ugly. If shit blows up there, school’s out. Not just for the summer, but forever.