Inflation insults in their sundae best
The middle class, it seems, has to grapple less with the unsavoury measures dealt by the ruling class, be it the shape of price rise, red tape, nepotism and the like, and has to contend more with potshots delivered by the ministerial 'meddle' class. That is, sections of our vocally volatile political class that drop digs faster and with far greater felicity than that with which the Centre raises fuel rates or the flair with which evolving power centre Baba Ramdev raises crowds as well as hair.
For, barely had our poor middle class recovered from chilling jibes from a ministerial mouth about its consumption of chilled products like ice-creams that it has had to be at the receiving end of even more cold-hearted comments about the current inflationary climate being conducive to its well-being.
And the latest chilling bites, not of the ice-cream-consuming kind but the acoustically arising bytes, have emanated from vocal chords that have managed to "steel" the thunder even from fellow ministerial mouths that have in recent days displayed a particular fetish for putting the foot in the mouth, the said sounds belonging to BJP veteran LK Advani and home minister Sushilkumar Shinde.
Seeing how the middle class has been bearing the brunt of 'meddle-class' ministerial barbs, it may well itself make itself more familiar with the makings of mouths that are wont to pay particular lip service, literal as well as figurative, to the "aam aadmi" and don't believe in treading the middle ground when it comes to spewing scorn on the inflation-crushed commoner.
There are ministerial mouths that being fed primarily on a liquid diet of 'rasam', 'sambar' and such syrupy stuff begrudge the "aam aadmi" even his mineral water and ice-cream. They don't really relish the middle-class palates being dressed in their sundae best. And in denigrating the common man's consumption of mineral water, they manage to give Indian politics its own brand of "Watergate". By consigning inflation-induced spending to watertight compartments, they profess the politically incorrect plausibility that if the middle-class mouth can afford a mineral water bottle for Rs 15 or an ice-cream cone at Rs 20, it jolly well should keep the mouth shut about a Re 1 hike in the price of a kilo of wheat or rice.
The brand ambassador for this make of ministerial mouth is none other than the once-again incumbent of the finance ministry, P Chidambaram, the man who almost met his Waterloo in the 2G spectrum scam.
These mouths belong to sophisticates who don't often fly off the handle but certainly wouldn't be caught dead flying in anything less than business class. And when apparent austerity drives have them treading the middle ground in the sky, they can't but help take some potshots at the middle-class mode of air travel. This they manage to do by branding economy-class travel as commuting in the cattle class.
The brand ambassador for this make of ministerial mouth is none else than senior Congressman Shashi Tharoor, who contributed to our middle class-mockery folklore with "Twittergate".
Won't reap as it sows
These mouths manage to soil their reputations not by sowing things wild as much by talking wild, that too about none other than the sons of the soil.
Their commoner-unfriendly proclamations are rooted not so much in inflated egos as in the ill-informed belief that inflation is a thing that does good to the farm fraternity.
By taking such digs at the tillers of the soil, these ministerial mouths do land themselves in trouble. But the fact that they sooner or later get away with their jibes at the "aam aadmi" shows that there is many a ministerial mouth that shall not reap as it sows.
The brand ambassador for this make of ministerial mouth is none other than the latest entrant into our foot-in-the-mouth folklore, union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma.
Beni Prasad's "Farmgate" has done for inflation-inspired insults what Chidambaram's lone "Watergate" couldn't complete for middle-class mockery: inflated the figure for recent ministerial foots in the mouth to double 'dig-it'.
The writer is a Chandigarh-based columnist.