As I tuned into a news telecast the other day, Sonia Gandi was making a speech.
"Mujhe Lalu Prasad Yadav ko banaana hai." (I have to fool Lalu Prasad Yadav.)
"Mujhe Dr. Karunanidhi ko banaana hai." (I have to fool Dr. Karunanidhi.)
I can very well understand that coalition politics has its own compulsions, but this seemed rather too audacious by any standards, considering that this was a speech being made in public and was sure to be reported prominently in all kinds of news media.
It was a little later, however, when the correspondent elaborated on what Mrs. Gandhi had been alluding to, that I realised that she had, in fact, been saying:
"Mujhe Lalu Prasad Yadav ko manaana hai." (I have to persuade Lalu Prasad Yadav.)
"Mujhe Dr. Karunanidhi ko manaana hai." (I have to persuade Dr. Karunanidhi.)
I suppose that means that either I am beginning to go deaf or Sonia Gandhi and Hindi do not go too well together! Anyway, that is besides the point.
Apparently, Mrs. Gandhi hopes to persuade the Congress' allies in the coalition that runs the government of India, to support a proposed bill that is meant to reserve a certain percentage of seats in parliament for women.
I think it is an insult to the women of India to imply that they can not 'secure adequate representation' in parliament unless this is done. I am sure they are as capable or incapable of making it to the Lok Sabha (the lower house) or the Rajya Sabha (the upper house) as the men are, on their own steam.
Female politicians in the country including the dour, the manipulative, the foul-mouthed, the feisty, the corrupt and ruthless, the hard working and competent, the benevolent and socially active, the erudite, the brilliant orator and the extreme right-wing and radically divisive, come in different shapes and sizes and have different temperaments, ideologies and modus operandi. So, I believe it is fair enough to say that they are as good or bad at politics as their male counterparts.
Besides, I do not see why only women can represent women and only men can represent men in parliament, as the proposed bill appears to imply.
After having sought to divide society along the lines of caste through caste-based reservations in government jobs and admissions to educational institutions (including highly technical courses) and therefore having insulted the brilliant, the hard-working and the competent among the so-called Other Backward Castes (OBCs), the political class now seek to polarise society even further by bringing in such legislation.
I really have no idea where this ever-expanding quest for 'vote-banks' is going to lead to.