Smooch ado about nothing
The Cold War era graffiti has since inspired murals like Make Everything Great Again, featuring Trump (again) with Vladimir Putin, and with Boris Johnson in the same pose
NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is in the crosshairs of the BJP. This time around, the ruling polity is on his case, not for his remarks on watchmen turning robbers, but for a repartee with cheeky and mushy undertones. It might even endear Rahul to the Mills & Boon brigade. The Congress leader ruffled feathers this week, when he blew a flying kiss in the Lok Sabha. Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani did not take kindly to it. She berated Rahul as a misogynist and said the House had never witnessed such an “indecent act”. Women MPs from the BJP later met the Speaker and demanded ‘stringent action’ against Rahul. Of course, we the people, with front-row seats to this sideshow are all too privy to episodes of indecency transpiring in the temple of democracy.
In 2012, a BJP MLA from Karnataka, Laxman Savadi was caught watching porn on his cellphone, along with another minister CC Patil in the state assembly. The MLA defended his actions saying he was watching the footage to prepare for a discussion on the ill-effects of rave parties. Legwork aside, the two ministers stepped down following public outrage. But, our anger suffers from selective amnesia. In 2020, we rolled out the red carpet in Ahmedabad for former US President Trump, who was accused of sexual assault by 25 women during the 2016 election. The ex-TV star denied the allegations even as a reputed US daily ran a story about how he was caught on a hot mic bragging about groping women. He defended the conversation as locker room talk, even as he was embroiled in a scandal involving his dalliances with adult entertainer Stormy Daniels.
But we digress. What’s riled up the ruling dispensation is a kiss — one that was not planted, and one that did not land. The outrage is bizarre as the puckering of lips is not as taboo as it is made out to be. If memory serves us right, the eastern side of the Berlin Wall was immortalised in 1990 with a graffiti painting by Dmitri Vrubel, titled My God, Help Me to Survive this Deadly Love. The painting is a reproduction of a photograph shot in 1979, during the 30th anniversary celebrations of the foundation of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). It depicts two leaders — Leonid Brezhnev of Russia, and Erich Honecker of the GDR in a full-on lip-lock, then known as a socialist fraternal kiss.
The Cold War era graffiti has since inspired murals like Make Everything Great Again, featuring Trump (again) with Vladimir Putin, and with Boris Johnson in the same pose. That’s little consolation for Rahul, who has previously been targeted by BJP for locking the PM in a jaadu ki jhappi (magical embrace ala Munnabhai). In fact, netizens who examined the ‘kiss-cam’ came to Rahul’s rescue, postulating that what he blew was not a kiss, but a khichdi of Italian gestures, including the finger purse/pinched fingers (implying ‘what do you mean?’) and the flick of the chin (‘I don’t give a damn’).
Rahul has other defenders too, like TMC MP Mahua Moitra, who called out Irani for keeping mum when a BJP MP was accused of harassment and molestation by wrestlers. DCW chief Swati Maliwal also echoed her angst on the absence of outrage over women being paraded naked in Manipur, or silence over the release of Bilkis Bano’s rapists on Independence Day. Like they say, it was just a flick of the chin.