Some of my well meaning friends are posting youtube downloads on Facebook that show Barkha Dutt being ruthlessly heckled by a mob when she was at India Gate after the Anna Hazare victory. They are saddened by what they perceive to be a fascist outburst. My reaction to the entire episode is what’s the fuss all about? She deserved what she got.
Barkha Dutt is as much a symbol of the malaise of corruption as A Raja or Suresh Kalmadi is. If the defence pertaining to Dutt is that nothing has been proved against her and she was merely doing her job, then surely we can allow Suresh Kalmadi to get away too. The courts have not pronounced him guilty as yet. What if he had landed up at the site where Anna Hazare was fasting? I am sure the treatment meted out to him would have been a lot worse.
We, the English speaking elite of the country, tend to lose perspective when it comes to one of our own. Like in the case of Dutt. She went to a school just like ours. We can vouch for her middle class roots. That makes us feel like taking her side. We tell ourselves, at worst, she was guilty of social climbing. After all, the most ridiculous thing about us is that we take great pride not in who we are and what we have achieved but who we party with. The whole page 3 culture is about this phenomenon of name dropping. ‘You know I was standing close to so and so celebrity and could hear her fart. It smelt nice,’ kind of a thing. But the X tapes proved Dutt is guilty of far worse than just seeking a place next to Radia at a cocktail dinner. She played her part in foisting a corrupt minister on this country. She was a power broker after the last elections.
If she turns up at a venue where enraged citizens are celebrating their victory against corruption, what did she expect? Air kissing from the irate mob that had gathered there? If you show a red flag to a bull, it’ll chase you. You are lucky if it doesn’t gore you to death.
I am ready to believe anything about Nira Radia’s four a.m. friend. Including that she landed at the venue in order to first garner attention and later sympathy from us. I am sure the television channel that employs her has other reporters they could have sent to cover the event. Why did she have to go?
I am hoping no one is stupid enough to play the gender card here. Both Radia and Dutt look as if they can take on half a dozen men at a poker game and walk away smiling. That’s about the only thing I like about them. They are power women and I respect them for that. But since they have misused their power, they deserve to be treated badly by the citizens of this country just like a Raja or Kalmadi.
Somehow whenever I am on the topic of Barkha Dutt, I think of Kapil Sibal. Maybe because they look very comfortable together. The first time I noticed their chemistry was in one of those celebratory shows after the UPA government won the last elections. Dutt egged Sibal to recite one of his poems. It was a very bad poem. Neither did it rhyme nor did it have a deeper meaning. Kuch bakwas tha. But both of them looked very pleased at the end of Sibal’s recitation. Barkha more than Sibal. Like he had written it for her or something.
The next time I saw them together on a show was after the 2G scam broke out and brought to light the not to so insignificant part Dutt played in the entire shenanigan. I think she was under some kind of pressure to be tough with Sibal in order to protect her own image. But she couldn’t sustain the tempo with her poetry spouting pal who kept on looking adoringly at her whenever she shot a difficult question at him. Very different from the way he looks at Arnab Goswami.
So instead they started talking about how sensitive our honourable Prime Minister is. The expressions on their faces resembled that of the parents of a ten year old boy,when they are sharing with dinner guests their prodigy does not like cricket but plays the piano beautifully. The whole nonsense was very painful and manipulative.
Like that bald Anupam Kher in that Goswami show after Anna’s victory, correcting that activist lady about her body posture without realising he has one of the worst postures among the Bollywood hams. But that’s okay. Kher is paid to be a clown but Dutt and Sibal aren’t.
Anyway just as Dutt was heckled by Anna supporters, Sibal was heckled by Anna himself. When he decided to take the wind out of Anna’s victory by making pious statements about how the Jan Lok Pal bill is not going to help the cause of poverty or education, Anna told him to resign from the committee. Sibal ki to phat gayi. He forgot poetry and made all the right noises to toe Anna’s line. I think this Anna is rather clever. Almost as clever as Sonia Gandhi.
We should be a bit careful about him.