Political discourse in contemporary India is generally one step removed from unabashed demagoguery, but every so often, some ‘leader’ or the other makes a comment that takes it straight into the gutter. Kindle lists five of the most politically incorrect statements by some of our best and brightest.
1. While stumping for the BJP during the Delhi election campaign in December, Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti told voters:“Aapko tay karna hai Ki Dilli mein Ramzaadon ki Sarkar banegi ya haramzaadon ki. (You have to decide whether the Government formed in Delhi will be of those born of Ram or those born as bastards.)” The voters decided they cared more about a vision for Delhi than their MLAs’.
2. The rising numbers of religious minorities has for years been a favourite bugbear of the Hindu Right, despite the proportion of Muslims and Christians in the Indian population not changing significantly in the decades since independence. In January this year, Sakshi Maharaj, a BJP MP, decided to fight back. “A Hindu woman must have at least four children,” he counselled. “Give one to the army, another to us religious leaders and teachers.”
3. Another social reformer is Ramesh Tawadkar, Goa’s minister for sports and youth affairs. In the proud tradition of homophobes the world over, the minister feels homosexuality can be cured. “We will make them normal,” he declared in January. “We will have a centre for them. Like Alcoholics Anonymous centres … We will train them and (give them) medicines too.” Unlike others in this list, however, he had the good sense to pretend to be misquoted once controversy inevitably erupted.
4. Asaduddin Owaisi isn’t one to take majoritarian drum-beating quietly. But even his biggest supporters would concede that the AIMIM MP’s attempted tongue-in-cheek response to all the Hindu Rashtra chatter was unnecessary. “Every child is born a Muslim,” he told a public rally. “His parents and society convert him to other religions.”
5. Mother Teresa’s exemplary work among the destitute in Kolkata earned her a Nobel Prize and the gratitude of a nation, which made the Albanian-origin nun from what is now Macedonian a beloved citizen. But she’s had her fair share of critics, most recently RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat, who complained that “The service may be good, but there’s a motive behind it. The idea is to make the person feel obligated, so that they become Christians.” As if the Sangh Parivar’s “social work” among Adivasis has no proselytising motives whatsoever.