We pamper them. We give them salaries. Their perks include free electricity, water, housing, travel and even secretarial service. A leader who is a Member of Parliament even for just a day gets a pension on retirement. We look after their every comfort and address them as "manniye" or honourable sir and madam. And still we get Ravindra Gaikwad.
He beats up an Air India officer with a chappal, delays a flight for forty minutes by refusing to leave the aircraft and yet brazenly says, "kaahe ka pash-chatap", what is there to repent? His political party the Shiv Sena goes a notch higher, it's spokesperson simply threatening to ban our national carrier. Considering their past behaviour, there was never much hope from the Shiv Sena but even the great Indian Parliament has disappointed us. The Speaker says she is helpless in saving the aam junta from the "goonda gardi" of some members.
Our leaders now know that they are the new untouchables of our society. They can get away with anything because in the end their vote counts.
Where did we go wrong? As any parent will vouch, too much indulgence will always spoil and we have been extremely guilty of it. But now it seems too late.
In a country where crores line up to get dole in the name of MGNREGA, there are MPs who have claimed over ₹50 lakh as travelling allowance in a year. Many of them are rich yet we have given them the right to increase their benefits.
The Supreme Court has now questioned the pension and freebies given to MPs and MLAs saying they seem unreasonable since most of them are affluent individuals. In the US or Britain, politicians fend for themselves once they are out of power. Even the US President and British Prime Minister move into their private accommodation after they demit office but our former Presidents and Prime Ministers move from one sarkari bungalow to another.
So, we get not only Ravinder Gaikwad but also Navjot Singh Sidhu who says what he does post 6pm is no one's business. And here we mistakenly thought public service was a 24x7 job. Sidhu is generously empowered by the taxpayer so as to discharge his duties but instead during that time also insists on continuing with his TV show appearances. The Punjab AG sees nothing wrong in Sidhu's demands.
Some other colleagues of Sidhu, ministers and MLAs in Punjab are refusing to take down their "lal batti" as they say they have earned it. Earned it? I thought they had gained the right to serve us but some feel it's the red light which is the real earning. Maybe, they are right. Someday perhaps they will progress to become the new Ravindra Gaikwads of India.
There are many examples of boorish, uncivilised and unethical behaviour of our representatives. Sometimes trains are stopped, other times policemen get beaten for questioning their behaviour, people are threatened with a single line—janta nahin mein kaun hoon? Don't you know who I am?
Yet, it was not always like this. In the first few Lok Sabhas, there were reasoned debates. Representatives then were very conscious that they were laying a foundation for the future. Gradually, deterioration set in and now the day Parliament works makes news. The Chairman or the Speaker is helpless in controlling disruptive and rowdy members.
Never mind if they are not devoting their "din-raat" in our welfare, now there is only one request. Please don't wear chappals.
And we are equally powerless. We cannot recall them nor can we reprimand or discipline them. Our impotent rage at the behaviour of Ravindra Gaikwad is of no use as he is unrepentant and so is his party. Parliament has long closed eyes towards its bad dudes, to borrow from Donald Trump.
Our leaders now know that they are the new untouchables of our society. They can get away with anything because in the end their vote counts. Ironically, even the Ethics Committee cannot check their unethical behaviour. Abraham Lincoln once wrote, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character give him power."
How many of our leaders will pass the test? Yet we don't grudge them their freebies at our expense because after all, we elected them. Never mind if they are not devoting their "din-raat" in our welfare, now there is only one request.
Please don't wear chappals.