The clowns in our country are not in short supply and the BJP has no dearth of ministers and leaders who cease to surprise and entertain. Of course, the poor masses are pretty confused what they have got after believing in the slogans of ‘Achche Din’. But they desperately need some respite which they often receive.
One of the precious jewels among the galaxy of BJP ‘Noratans’ is undoubtedly our Culture Minister Shri Mahesh Sharma. He had made an unforgivable and unforgettable faux pas at Gangtok on Oct 15, 2015. The Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Mahesh Sharma shocked everyone with his knowledge when he referred to former president A.P.J Abdul Kalam as Abdul Kalam Azad — not once but twice. He was paying tributes to the former president at the start of the Fourth International Tourism Mart. He is blessed with the allotment of Prez Abdul Kalam’s bungalow.
Mahesh Sharma had enlightened the audience with these words: “On this occasion, I would like to remember former president Abdul Kalam Azad for his contributions towards global peace. Today is his 84th birth anniversary.” Both of these greats A.P.J.Abdul Kalam and Moulana Abul Kalam Azad were the towering figures of Indian history but unlucky to get the brunt of the minister’s gaffe.
Another instance – the same responsible minister had brazenly advocated that “girls wanting a night out” is “not part of Indian culture”. “We will cleanse every area of public discourse that has been westernised and where Indian culture and civilisation need to be restored — be it the history we read, our cultural heritage or our institutes that have been polluted over years”.
Sri Mahesh Sharma thinks that “in our culture women of three generations cook food in the same kitchen” while “in Europe, a 16-year-old leaves home”.
“Hindu holy books such as the Gita, Ramayana and Mahabharata are ‘ideal granths (texts)’ that teach moral values.” He didn’t stop there, adding they don’t prescribe any particular faith whereas the Bible and Quran are purely religious books.
Commentators on social media were quick to react to Sharma’s insensitive remarks, with a user saying: “So do v hav 2 Agree 2 everything you say, Culture minister Mahesh Sharma? Are you our Agree-Culture Minister, farming pre-historic values?”
And the latest howler that might put to shame the foreign ministry, reflected his ignorance at an event today. He addressed New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key as “McCullum”. The event was organized to promote New Zealand tourism in India. The gaffe happened when Sharma began his speech, addressing Key as “His excellency Prime Minister McCullum”.
And the next display of ignorance was made by the Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra who is New Zealand tourism’s ambassador in India. He rose to speak but could not recall Shri Sharma’s name. After fumbling for a few seconds, he said wittily “It’s payback time”.
Let us remember that Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma is a staunch follower of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) since childhood. I don’t know if India has a cultural problem or memory problem in his persona.
By Naim Naqvi