Nothing like a picture of your inspirational hero or heroine to keep you in the picture. This is a belief beloved of all covertly and overtly autocratic leaders everywhere. And, of course, Indian netas are no exception. This New Year, as breathless Trinamool Congress legislators unwrapped their gifts, what should they behold but a framed likeness of Mamatadi. Now, she may be no oil painting but the hearts of the faithful soared with pride.
Our leaders are never far from us. If you happened to be schmoozling around Uttar Pradesh, Big Behenji will always be watching you from her pedestal. In Chennai, which takes the hoardings, banners and buntings in this regard, heavyweights, and we use the term advisedly, like Jayalalithaa keep you company as you enjoy a gentle perambulation on the beach. In fact, the emotional Tamils have perfected the art of keeping up close and personal with their leaders. Some imaginative soul dreamed up the idea of tattooing Amma’s image on the inner eyelids of people so that they could dream of her. Across our nation, we have statues of Ambedkar, Netaji Subhas Bose and, of course, Gandhi. That few bear any resemblance to the departed has not deterred us from erecting ever more images of our favourites.
It is quite possible that the poor old ducks in the Trinamool were hoping to get a nifty watch or 24-piece dinner set. But, next year, let us hope some bright spark comes up with the idea of merchandise which bears the imprint of our leaders. Imagine eating through layers of Christmas pudding only to be confronted with, say, BS Yeddyurappa smiling at you from your plate. If that doesn’t stop you in mid-mouthful, we don’t know what will. Our New Year tip to all the dieticians out there: recommend crockery and cutlery with images that could substantially reduce your appetite.