In a scandal-hungry society, yesterday’s tasty gossip becomes cold, greasy and unpalatable faster than last night’s vada pao. Anyone remember RTI activist Anjali Damania and her accusations against BJP president Nitin Gadkari? When was that? Last century? Last decade? Last year? Month? Who knows and who cares.
The flavour for now is mango with a kick of banana. Robert Vadra’s cosy relationship with real estate giant DLF is bad enough and then he goes and makes a joke about the “aam aadmi”? A pun no less and calls them “mango men in a banana republic”? Shocking and disrespectful to mangoes, men, republics, bananas, puns, aliens, buildings, land, loans, companies, friends, family, in-laws, loved ones, parties… have I left out anything? Luckily PeTA is not concerned about the ethical treatment of fruits or they would have jumped in by now.
It was of course Vadra’s late father-in-law Rajiv Gandhi who first made India famous as a banana republic. Almost every speech he made as prime minister contained the phrase: “hame yeh banana hai” (we have to build this). The country, one must acknowledge, has many new buildings since then though I’m not sure that Rajiv Gandhi was specifically referring to DLF.
The short shelf-life of a scandal doesn’t just mean that the high-profile victim gets off the hook pretty quick but more seriously, that the point made is missed completely and we’re back to where we started. The question about Sonia Gandhi’s foreign travel was followed by counter questions about Gujarat chief minister’s own sojourns — no answers there either. Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan promised a “white paper” on irrigation; that’s now been downgraded to a status report but there’s only mild concern since the thrill of Ajit Pawar’s resignation has become stale.
I can’t even go as far back as Barkha Dutt, Vir Sanghvi, Ratan Tata, the Ambani brothers and Niira Radia because all that happened who-knows-when. The new contestants on Bigg Boss are apparently more interesting. That cartoonist who was all hysterical about sedition charges has, I believe, taken his battle against the Indian state to the well-tested agit-prop device of sordid reality TV: have forgotten his name of course. It was so long ago.
Arvind Kejriwal and his friends have more “exposes” in store for us they say which means more one week wonders in the time space continuum. Suresh Kalmadi and A Raja are going to be on some parliamentary panels we hear and TV-encouraged outrage has been barely perceptible: a short while ago the very sight of Kalmadi’s name if not the man himself made the whole nation quiver with self-righteous disgust.
Two non-stop sources of shock and horror are Haryana and West Bengal. What Bengal does today, India does tomorrow so Haryana has just discovered that all these rapes that happen there are a conspiracy against the state. Mamata Banerjee said that ages ago, remember?
The chief beneficiaries of all these non-stop political messes have been Indian cricketers. They’ve lost just about everything they should have won this year but so engrossed have we been in other stuff, that cricket has been pushed to the background. Oh yeah, India didn’t win the T20 World Cup. Ho hum. Have you seen Chris Gayle dancing Gangnam style?
With due respect to India TV, I can’t see a few nudge-nudge wink-wink umpires in a tiny no-money-compared-to-IPL league creating any more turbulent weather. Some figure like Rs 95 lakh crore for a breaking-chairs-and-tables allowance in legislative assemblies will soon be upon us and the circus will start again.
Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on twitter @ranjona