Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Tapas Pal is suffering from an acute case of 'bravado-titis'.
Okay, I made that up but the two-time MP from Krishnanagar (Nadia district) seems to have an 'I-care-a-damn-attitude' when it comes to making gender-insensitive comments. Pal, however, is not the only one on that ever-expanding list: there are old warhorses like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Abu Azmi, RR Patil and Nanki Ram Panwar who have often made derogatory comments against women ostensibly to 'reach out' to their (male) constituents. And who can forget the famous 'dented and painted' comment by a certain Abhijeet Mukherjee after the December 16 rape case in Delhi?
In a video clip that surfaced on Monday, the 56-year-old actor-turned politician, was caught on tape threatening to let loose rapists on his opposition if they don't fall in line. "If anyone from opposition or their wives and sisters are here, then listen up, if any one of your people touch anyone from TMC I will destroy you, I will not spare them. I will send my boys and they will rape women," he said in the video that has been aired in many TV channels.
Pal told HT (bravado-titis, again) that he could not remember making such a comment.
However, the TMC on their part seems to have accepted that Pal has managed to score a spectacular own goal.
So instead of dishing out the usual excuses ('misquoted', 'we will send the tape for verification' etc) that political parties often use to shield their motormouth members when they are caught on the wrong foot, the TMC on Monday quickly distanced itself from the episode, saying that it did not endorse Pal's views.
Party spokesperson Derek O'Brien tweeted: "Sensitive use of language is an obligation for role models in culture, politics and society. If that code is breached, public trust is lost".
Ah that's exactly our point, Mr O'Brien: the "code" has been breached by a "role model".
So will the party do anything drastic about it or just tweet out a nicely-worded but essentially a lame apology?
The best way now to control the damage would be to pull out this overly aggressive player from the field and send him to the back to the dugout for the next few months.
In other words, the TMC should suspend him for a while. Pal deserves it.
On his part, Pal should quickly brush up his fusty acting skills: convincing people that he did no wrong will be a hard task.
For starters, he will have to contend with the feisty members of the National Commission of Women who have promised to initiate action (FIR) against him.
Then there are is the media, online petitions and even a 'boo' button that people can press to register protest against his comments.