By Shobhaa De, Mumbai Mirror | Apr 26, 2014, 02.12 AM IST
Chances are Rakhi Sawant will lose her deposit. So what? Rakhi Sawant did what 99.9 per cent of citizens don’t – she put her money where her mouth is, and stood for elections. She was mocked, ridiculed and humiliated for what was described as yet another RS stunt. Perhaps it was indeed nothing more than a stunt. But even a stunt like this one, needs guts.

And in today’s vitiated political atmosphere, show me one candidate who hasn’t resorted to stunts of one kind or another? Elections 2014 were conducted by stunt masters par excellence – starting at the very top. Why single out Rakhi? Unlike so many candidates, at least she does not have a criminal record, she hasn’t murdered anyone, and most importantly, she does not belong to a tainted dynasty!

Interestingly, like many other ambitious lady politicians in India, Rakhi is single, self-made and successful (declared assets of Rs 15 crore! Wow!). She has not stolen money or usurped land, nor used Papa’s high connections to get to where she has. She bravely and truthfully describes herself as an ‘Illiterate‘. And it makes me think of countless so-called ‘literate’ candidates who shame us with their filthy abuse and atrocious language skills.

Being illiterate in India is not a personal crime – it is the failure of the State. Rakhi is a legitimate victim of a system that has failed her, as it has countless others. It is not her fault. Nor is it a sin. Despite all the odds stacked against her, Rakhi went ahead and started her own political party, with a green chilly as her symbol. What made her do it? God knows. But good on you, girl!

Mumbai has voted. And Rakhi’s supporters (assuming she has some) will no doubt be disheartened by their heroine’s disappointing performance (though… who can predict results? Funnier things have happened in the past). I, for one, will be so happy if she creates even a tiny difference.

Rakhi herself has demonstrated more common sense and sincerity while she was campaigning than most of her lofty competitors making tall claims. Rakhi is far more in touch with ground realities than some of our fancy candidates. I do believe someone like her would make a better people’s representative in Parliament than our pretentious penthouse politicians. But, of course, Mumbai is a long way off from giving someone like her a chance to speak up and be heard.

Which brings me to Modi. I re-read Narendra Modi‘s cleverly worded, full page newspaper ads which stated, “Choose decisiveness. Not silence.” And I marveled at the irony of the message! The copywriter has done the assigned job, but look at the absurdity of the promise. To say nothing of the obvious disconnect. The word ‘decisiveness’ itself will not be understood by half the people it is meant for. And yes – Modi is going to be ‘decisive’ for sure – but about WHAT? Let me guess – he will decisively shut up critics. He will systematically silence all those who disagree with him.

Let me give you a small example: My column titled ‘Which woman wants to marry Narendra Modi?’ which had appeared in this very space and generated a great deal of comment, has mysteriously disappeared from my blog. So have a few other posts related to Modi. The recent one on Modi as husband material (or not!) was tongue-in-cheek – a satire. Not terribly flattering, but certainly not ‘offensive’ or ‘defamatory’. Well, it isn’t there on my blog any longer, as was pointed out to me by a vigilant follower. This is just a foretaste of what lies ahead. Those censorship fears are not unfounded.

Modi may claim he won’t be ‘vindictive’ when he comes to power. Unfortunately, few believe him. This sort of fear psychosis is unhealthy and counter-productive in a democracy. Even Indira Gandhi didn’t get away with the Emergency, and ended up paying a very heavy price for it. Which is why a Rakhi Sawant boldly standing for elections is an important signal which says: ALL INDIANS ARE EQUAL. Every citizen has the absolute right to challenge the system and fight for justice, truth, fair play. The moment we forget this essential truth, we are doomed.

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