The shoe, going by its usual shape, is quite a throwable object. While traditionally it has been used to pummel nasty characters — like nabbed thieves in a crowded locality or effigies of public figures who aren’t too popular — the actual throwing of a shoe at a personage is of a more recent vintage. The battered sports shoe whizzing past Home Minister P. Chidambaram at a press meet on Tuesday was the latest instance of shoe-throwing as a political act. Move over heckling, effigy-burning and gheraos. The ‘shoeing’ has entered the Indian protest circuit.
YouTube clips have already immortalised Iraqi journalist Muntadher al-Zaidi, who aimed his leather accessory at George W. Bush in December last year. Mr Zaidi, considered since then a hero in anti-American circles, is ironically still cooling his heels while an otherwise unpopular Mr Bush is feted for being one up on Ronald Reagan who, in the context of a bullet, “forgot to duck”. On the other side of the civilisational shoe size, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was hurled a shoe last month while on his way to a rally in Urmia. So shoes — and their throwers — know no ideology.
The strait-laced journo Jarnail Singh flung his shoe at Mr Chidambaram for being left unhappy at the Home Minister’s explanation for the CBI giving a clean chit to Congressmen accused of spearheading the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Mr Chidambaram, like a Pope vis-a-vis his assailant, has ‘forgiven’ Mr Singh. But here’s our worry. Will shoethrowing pick up currency in India now? Especially among all those journos ‘not happy’ with the answers they get during press conferences? Our toes curl with worry.