While media channels, Twitter and Facebook are still debating the political correctness of the hugging episode in the parliament last week, everything looks fine as far as India’s current political landscape is concerned. In the background of back-to-back cold-blooded lynchings and vigilantism against minority communities that the state tends to ignore, India is craving desperately for love. Advocates of the LGBTQ community have been fighting it out in the Supreme Court for the abrogation of the Victorian law, Section 377 of the IPC, which criminalizes homosexuality and infringes upon rights of queer people. This is a fight between love and hate, right and wrong, moral and immoral, and rights-based order and religious bigotry. Under such circumstances, Rahul Gandhi’s gesture (perhaps one for political mileage) of love and compassion for Prime Minister Narendra Modi (who is accused of collusion and silence over hate crimes), catered to our constant craving for love and peace.
This no-confidence motion was aimed at setting up the stage for 2019 polls. Rahul Gandhi was a different leader on that day – bolder, fiercer and probing the BJP where it hurt most. PM Modi opted for a much-anticipated style of mockery regaling in the achievements of NDA’s 4-year rule while conveniently ignoring all the numbers mentioned by previous speakers (MPs) that point out the grim situation of health, education, law and order, public projects and communal harmony all over the country.
Some points made by Mr Gandhi had flaws like his comments over Rafale deal, which reflected less seriousness while keeping up with his reputation of ‘never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.’ Everyone knew the fortune of the no-confidence motion, as the opposition was nowhere close to numbers. At the outset, this motion that was never meant to yield results might look like a strategic mistake or even an ethical blunder. But it was for first-time people called Modi’s speech boring and his attempts to capitulate over hate against Gandhi family simply failed. Instead, Gandhi’s positivity stole the show.
What’s the big fuss, hue & cry over a “Pyar ki Jhappi”, an affectionate hug? Dynamic young leader of the youth & generation next, @RahulGandhi spontaneously gave a warm hug to our Hon’ble PM after his speech in Parliament. What a splendid gesture?…1>2
— Shatrughan Sinha (@ShatruganSinha) July 24, 2018
No doubt it was all theatrics. But we have normalised such behaviour with good TRPs, especially on prime time news television which engages journalists, politicians and audiences alike. Then how rational is it for people to complain of this demeanour, which has earlier reduced the parliament to a theatre stage featuring people’s representatives from across the country? Not to mention the complicity of the current government in encouraging such dramatics from day one when the PM cried at his first session in the parliament. We have been a continuous audience complicit in drawing such performances time and again. And yet, the PM had to make distasteful remarks about Rahul Gandhi, following his impulsive wink. One would think that as long as a wink is not attacking someone’s dignity, it should be fine. But this time Rahul Gandhi outshined the PM by giving him a taste of his own medicine which startled Modi. His compassion outshone the anger and hate one would usually witness on prime-time TV.
The reason many Indians gave a thumbs up to Gandhi’s speech is because of its intent to spread love and inclusiveness. These days, most people feel alienated and are generally fed up of the pervasive hate mongering perpetuated by the BJP IT cell. For me, the hug was most iconic part of Gandhi’s speech, as he attempted to bridge manbhed between the top brass of two parties and did so successfully, while clearly articulating the political and ideological differences. On being given a choice between love and state-sponsored hate, India unequivocally opted for love. Let’s wait and watch how this choice affects people’s political opinions in next year’s general elections.