Neither simple, nor saintly: No excuses for Niranjan Jyoti

  • Lalita Panicker, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Dec 06, 2014 07:39 IST

The new sadhvi on the block may be guilty of running off at the mouth, but she did not know any better. Or so we are assured by senior BJP minister Venkaiah Naidu who attributes her venomous communal remarks to the fact that she is a simple village woman. What an insult to village women , the majority of whom conduct themselves with dignity and class when compared to our lady in saffron. If she was all that simple, and not in control of her own language, what is she doing holding an important ministry in the government of Narendra Modi who has said he will have no truck with bad behaviour.

We earlier had Sadhvi Rithambara who would throw all decency to the wind and refer to the anatomical parts of other communities, threatening to attack the aforementioned parts with a chopping knife. But then we assume she did not know better either. And now poised to take off on a journey down the Ganga is our minister for water resources, Uma Bharti, famed for her provocative and crass sloganeering.

These women sadhvis, all of them with little education must be condemned for their ugly remarks. But equally if not more reprehensible are the political parties who unleash them on the crowds to whip up passions. When they cross the line as Niranjan Jyoti has done, her conduct is disowned by frowning party members or patrons. And we often hear the explanation that they did not know better.

But, the parties who use them certainly do. In many ways, they are exploiting these women, who by the way seem ready and willing to oblige, often in return for sops or in the case of Niranjan Jyoti the lottery proceeds in terms of a ministership. But the fault lies in all of us, those who listen to them and applaud their 'fiery' rhetoric, those who wheel them out and those who try and disown them the minute things go wrong.

It is passing strange that no one is asking how Niranjan Jyoti, a woman with no administrative experience and little education was given a ministership. Clearly, it was because the BJP thought it could use her off the wall speeches in forthcoming elections to whip up the crowd. She has her uses, though perhaps not as a minister. But emboldened by the importance given to her, she went too far.

As for Uma Bharti, she does have administrative experience. But she is by no stretch of the imagination the right person to deal with the seemingly intractable problem of cleaning up the Ganga. She may talk about Ma Ganga and all that but then so did Nirupa Roy in her many roles as tearful mother in Hindi films. She has not come up with one idea on how to achieve this gargantuan task. But she is useful, come elections, to rail and rant against the party's opponents.

Perhaps, some women's rights groups should take up the cause of the shouting sadhvis. They are being exploited to achieve the ends of a patriarchal political class. They are victims, not aggressors in the classical feminist sense. So pity poor Niranjan Jyoti, after the initial half-hearted defences, she will be left to her own devices to defend herself. And sooner rather than later, another sadhvi will come along, fiery rhetoric and all, to shock us out of our placid existence yet again.

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