The sure and certain recipe of making oneself appear insufferably arrogant is to assume the role of a party political spokesperson in India. It would almost seem to be a pre-requisite to have a stratospheric level of self-righteousness coupled with and unashamedly persistent penchant for mendacity and a very high decibel level to make a mark in this unenviable vocation.
Why is it that so many queue up to grab this position and why do they regard it as exalted? The answer is simple! The more you stake your reputation to appear as patently absurd to any discerning observer, the greater likelihood of you being conferred the limitless perks of power within the political hierarchy!
For years we have been treated to spokespersons of different parties, otherwise quite affable and possessed of enviable academic credentials make buffoons of themselves by espousal of positions which by most charitable interpretations appear devoid of logic and at times grossly amoral.
We had to endure Manish Tewari for years whose sole brief was to appear supercilious and deflect the course of any meaningful debate on television. Then we had the otherwise quite dignified Jayanthi Natarajan who, to use the Afrikaans expression, used to regress into ‘laager’ whenever she was challenged on any position her exalted vice-president Rahul Gandhi used to take. Now we are being treated to the grotesque spectacle of Abhishek Manu Singhvi spouting morality every day. Even the inconsequential people whose names I had never heard before were catapulted to this position, they are doubly anxious to make their presence felt through decibels sans logic.Others like Sanjay Jha and Tasneem Poonawala seem to believe that ugly sarcasm is capable of logical vacuousness they are asked to defend. Yet others like Gowda who, I suspect, project willful incoherence to deflect any discussion.
However it is not just the Congress that is afflicted with this malady. Who can forget the fracas Meenakshi Lekhi got into with the redoubtable Arnab Goswami. Even today someone like Sudhanshu Trivedi revels in making a pious statement that he would like to be born a cow in his next birth and does not experience the tiniest iota of embarrassment. And we have the Samajwadi Party spokespersons like Gaurav Bhatia who enjoy appeasing obnoxious to please their boss who has given them out of turn favours. There is Bhadoria ,the BSP spokesperson who should seriously admit to his unsuitability for this role because of his incoherence.
My most serious disappointment though is with the medical professionals who have assumed this role. I find it flabbergasting to observe personnel like Sambit Patra, Ajay Kumar and Ajay Alok attempt to defend the most indefensible positions with at times revolting arrogance.There are at least some who succeeded in maintaining decorum like Ravi Shankar Prasad and Yogendra Yadav.
But the person who came across as most credible and avuncular possessed with an enviable stock of logic and admirable articulation thus far was Pavan Kumar Verma of the JD(U). A former diplomat and an accomplished novelist, he rarely ever exercises his vocal chords beyond the acceptable limits. Only once did I see him lose his cool and that was when one of the panellists alluded to him disparagingly as ‘this Pavan Verma’ only to retract it within seconds. These qualities have not endeared him to his political colleagues even in his own party. One of the general secretaries himself confided to me that Verma is a difficult customer and frequently deviates from accepted party positions.
Therefore it was with some dismay that I have been observing his recent tendency to forego his intellectual prowess in order to defend his party’s position vis a vis parliamentray boycott. He frequently alluded to the fact that our parliamentary system borrows very heavily from the Westminster system where a senior cabinet minister could not expect to remain in office if he/she was being credibly accused of the charges Mrs.Swaraj is confronted with.This according to him justified the boycott.
Mr.Verma, you are absolutely on the mark when you make the assertion that charges of the nature Mrs.Swaraj is facing would have resulted in her resignation in the U.K. But sadly you have conveniently overlooked another very important aspect.
Having lived in the U.K. for a long time, I cannot imagine a person who has been convicted of gross corruption and hence moral turpitude like Laloo Prasad Yadav ever being able to hold on to the leadership of a major party in that country. In fact I would be prepared to bet my bottom dollar that his/her own party would have thrown him out after the court judgement. How does Mr.Verma explain his affinity towards a party lead by a convict.
The sad part is that none of the other participants challenged him on this count but I would be interested to learn Pavan Verma’s position as he advocates adherence to the Westminster rules and conventions in toto.
By Ashoka Jahnavi Prasad