Byline by M.J. Akbar: Uma Swarthi
It all depends of course on what you mean by ordinary and extraordinary. The dictionary definition of "ordinary" is "expected". In that sense, the Uma Bharti outburst at the BJP meeting of plenipotentiaries and high officials last Wednesday was ordinary.
Uma Bharti is a saffron-humbug power-addict who has climbed the greasier part of the BJP ladder by a careful use of petulance and virulence. Her petulance is reserved for her Hindutva colleagues. Her virulence is concentrated on Muslims. Even her saffron is humbug, for she is as far from renunciation as anyone could possibly be. Flaunting it as a uniform cannot disguise the fact that her addiction to power is pathetic.
Her tantrums are an instance of acute withdrawal syndrome after she was lured out of the chief minister’s chair in Madhya Pradesh by a relieved BJP high command since her quirky behaviour was guaranteed to destroy the party. A quick search on the Net throws up this definition of "Causes and Symptoms": "Acute withdrawal syndrome begins within hours of abstinence, and includes a full range of physical and psychological symptoms. More long-term, or sub-acute, withdrawal symptoms, such as intense drug craving, may occur weeks or months after detoxification has taken place." Substitute the word "drug" for "power" and you have an accurate diagnosis of Uma Bharti’s malaise.
What I found extraordinary is that Advani should have opted to rebuke his assembled functionaries in front of television cameras. All party presidents have to throw the rule book at offending deputies from time to time. Defeat is always a bad period for morale, and when you can’t fight the opponent you naturally choose the next best option, which is fighting between yourselves. This is the therapy of despair.
So why did Advani invite television cameras to record an internal castigation? Does he believe that self-flagellation works only if accompanied by public humiliation?
This may well be true of the BJP’s Generation Next. Six years ago, with the exception of an Arun Jaitley or a Pramod Mahajan, they were nobodies. Six years of unexpected power spoilt them. Some — not all, I hasten to add — have deeply benefited from the gravy train on which they got first class seats from the lottery of life. One Cabinet minister, to provide an example, was leader of the rickshaw union in his constituency when, to his surprise, he won the election of 1999 and, to his total shock, rose quickly to become Cabinet minister. Today he leads the nation from a multi-crore farmhouse.
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As you enjoy, or cringe at the cacophony let loose by Uma Bharti and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, remember one thing. The silence of Narendra Modi is more eloquent than the hysteria of Uma Bharti.