Please mind the gaffe
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Please mind the gaffe

In this age of new media, what politicians say in public is there for all to see and hear. There’s no place to hide.

india Updated: Mar 21, 2013 23:30 IST
Hindustan Times

Making statements and then either denying them or alleging that they were quoted out of context has become a habit with many of our elected representatives. What seems to have escaped their attention is that with the mushrooming of social media and news channels, there is really no place to hide. So whatever you say is there for all to see and no question of the media, that favourite whipping boy, having twisted it out of context.

Now this should have been enough to inculcate a degree of circumspection in our leaders. But going by Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma’s intemperate remarks about the Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav recently, it would seem that our leaders prefer to bash on regardless in the hope that they can bluster their way out of the verbal messes they create. The minister, something of a serial offender in the gaffe department, has denied making any statement but has also apologised for having caused offence. Our home minister is second to none in speaking in haste and repenting in leisure. He has embarrassed his party on numerous occasions. No one, but no one will buy the theory that the views expressed by a politician publicly are personal. As public personalities, they are seen to represent their parties’ views.

The unsavoury sight of our elected representatives either shouting each other down or indeed resorting to physical violence in Parliament and legislatures are now brought home in shocking clarity thanks to the various media. The views of many of our political worthies are now known to us on vehicles like Twitter. So, this should make them stop in their tracks — tracks which they cannot cover up later — and conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to the high office they occupy. The public tolerance of this unseemly behaviour is running low. People are clear that they want their elected representatives to think before they speak and work for the people who voted for them. Wasting time making rash remarks and then going blue in the face denying them is not part of the deal. And there is no room to split hairs over what is public and personal. Discretion really is the better part of valour in the age of new media.

First Published: Mar 21, 2013 23:26 IST