Sometimes the political gaffes are so stupid even getting angry or outraged is pointless.
The president of the Assam unit of the BJP, Ranjit Das, recently joined the swiftly growing ranks of politicians who say the darndest things. Having unfurled the tricolour the wrong way round on 26 January he explained away the human error with an analogy that defeats logic. Said, oh, well, we often put on our vests inside out.
That we do, but if this is the best comparison that springs to mind one have to worry about the cerebral calibre of these so-called leaders. This is the second BJP frontliner this week who has jousted with words and come off holding a wet noodle. Vinay Katiyar of the BJP party in MP chose to pick on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra by equating her features and level of beauty with political competence. Katiyar would lose on both counts but let’s study the dichotomy of the metaphorical vest.
You are in an eminent position of power. Your state is a sensitive one. The past few weeks has seen much controversy about the tricolour and the Supreme Court orders to give it respect, whether you agree with saluting and playing the national anthem at cinema halls or not. The issue is in the air, magnified even more by the indiscretions of Amazon and their commercial ventures based on putting flags on doormats and other trivial items. All these elements come together to create a certain awareness in your mind as public servant and make you a little more cautious.
For certain, the flag can get stuck during a ceremony, it can be unfurled the wrong way and the human factor joins Murphy in agreeing that if something can go wrong, it probably will. No one can really be annoyed about that, simply rueful.
But when the first thing that comes to your mind after the flag is corrected is your undergarment and you need to express the mistake with this imagery one has to worry about your mental state. Even if you thought it, do you have to announce your dubious sortie into picturesque speech?
Can’t these people just zip their mouths? Why has the virtue of silence not been taught to the BJP’s crack troops when their General is a pastmaster at it. Unlike Manmohan Singh, whose silence came off as weak and feeble, Modi’s silence is ominous, balanced on contempt and dismissal and now chiselled into a splendid political strategy that works for him. There is a distinctive power to it.
What is regrettable is that his A team is more like a C-minus when it comes to following the boss. Perhaps, with each such foolish sortie denting the BJP regardless or whether they acknowledge it or not, the PM might like to send out a code of conduct and speech linked to consequences.
They should, because these flights of fancy get wings of their own thanks to the internet, Facebook and Twitter. The story has morphed into Ranjit Das saying ‘we wear our underpants inside out often enough, so no big deal’. By pass ons and shares, the garment in question has changed and become more offensive, thereby compelling Assam Congress president Ripun Bora to ride to the rescue with a tweet: “Hoisting tri-color upside down & comparing with vest by President of BJP, Assam is a total disrespect to the nation.”
What would we do if the Congress wasn’t there in the wings to save us from the indiscretions of others? Das, of course, has blamed the remark on the person who made the error, some poor soldier or cop who has been thrown under the bus because it is convenient and to be honest, no cop having caught in this sort of an error is going to answer a politician with such aplomb.
Das: “The moment I noticed the mistake, I questioned the person who was responsible for arranging the flag for hoisting. He apologised and said it was an oversight similar to us wearing our vest inside out sometimes. Since there was no mala fide intent behind the error, we rectified the fault and hoisted the flag one more time in the proper manner. But some sections of the media wrongly attributed that person’s remark to me,” he added.
Doesn’t fly. The guy would have been quaking in his boots. Imagine the ceremonial scene and the person being castigated. Can you hear him saying, Sir, Sir, even our vests are worn inside out?
Don’t blame him. Just get a little smarter and wiser and learn from the master of the game… be quiet like your boss. It is more eloquent.