Politicians should do what they were elected for, not engage in moral policing | editorials | Hindustan Times
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Politicians should do what they were elected for, not engage in moral policing

if parliamentarians such as Sakshi Maharaj were to expend their energies on preventing violent crimes against women and taking to task the goons who stalk or harass women in public, it would serve some public good

editorials Updated: Sep 25, 2017 10:03 IST
A file picture of BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj.
A file picture of BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj. (Subhankar Chakraborty/HT PHOTO)

Regulating people’s morals seems to have become an obsession with several politicians, not the least of whom is BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj. The MP is known to speak long and loud on how people should conduct themselves in keeping with Indian tradition and culture of which he considers himself a custodian. The latest absurdity from him is a link between public shows of affection between men and women and rape. Couples behaving in what he considers a vulgar manner should be put behind bars before a rape happens and the police are blamed, he says. Now, much of this will not make sense to most people and should be ignored but the fact is that Maharaj is an MP from the ruling party and ought to be doubly careful when speaking of issues like rape which increasing by the day as also other forms of sexual violence against women.

The notion of consensual intimacy seems lost on people like Maharaj who seem to favour some sort of Talibanesque code of moral conduct for young people. Earlier, Maharaj had in a disgraceful show of prejudice sought to exonerate rapist godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim on the grounds that his followers believed that he was God. Under guise of enforcing Indian values, young people are increasingly under attack by louts posing as moral vigilantes. The choice of a partner from another community is being termed love jihad with no proof that this is a deliberate trend. Nobody, and certainly not an elected representative has any business to try and police the private lives of people, their choice of partners or their conduct in public unless this happens to violate some law. If people like Maharaj were to expend their energies on preventing violent crimes against women and taking to task the goons who stalk or harass women in public, it would serve some public good.

This regressive mindset is indicative of a narrow and warped view of relations between men and women. Maharaj, it would appear, is spending an inordinate amount of time checking on people’s behaviour in cars and on motorbikes. The worst is that he has said that this behaviour leads to rape, a serious crime against women for which the causes are very different. This suggests that he is either ignorant or deliberately provocative. Either way, he should be taken to task by his party’s leadership. Anyone attempting to infantilise rape and tie up normal interaction with morality does not deserve to be a representative of the people. The party ought to do an audit of what real work Maharaj and his ilk have done for the people who have elected them.