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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Some gaffes and controversial statements by the famous



The enfant terrible of Indian politics,  the darling of a  million Gujaratis,  the bete noire of L.K. Advani and  Rahul Gandhi , the man Who will not be Named  by  muslims  pan India, the collective hope of an educated, frustrated, beleagured middle class, Narendra  Modi , the man ,not the enigma, is no stranger to controversy. Some say he creates controversy whilst his admirers, a growing legion , say he meets controversy  headlong.  The amused fence sitters,  not many in Modi’s case , say he is only following what a President in United States of America, ironically a country that he is denied access to, said many years back: If an individual wants to be a leader and isn’t controversial ,that means he never stood for anything.  This from an unrepentant Nixon , himself  no stranger to controversy, who  had piously intoned at the outbreak of the Watergate Scandal,” I am no crook”, prompting many to do  a rethink on the definition of that five letter word. Modi, however, has been spared the blushes at being called a crook. Used to much harsher and damming invectives he ripostes a,  “someone is driving a car and we’re sitting behind, even if a puppy comes under the wheels, will it be painful or not? Of course it will. Chief minister or not, I’m a human being. If something bad happens anywhere, it is natural to be sad.”

What made Modi talk about hapless puppies ? Was it an off the cuff remark or an  oblique reference to India’s minority community? Well, only he, and maybe Amit Shah, can tell but what comes out clearly is that Modi has the propensity of most of the famous, and some not so famous to shoot their mouth off, or , as some put it rather indelicately, to put their foot in their mouth.  The latter syndrome attached itself like a limpet to a forever bemused   Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. His state visit to China in 1986 became memorably famous for the uproar his comment to British students studying in China caused. An unrepentant Prince Philip defended his remark,   'If you stay here much longer you will all be slitty-eyed', with the  indefensible , ‘The Chinese didn’t mind it, so why should anyone else”.  Nursing a hangover of the Raj , in another incident more than 13 years later, showing that royal consorts grow older but no wiser, he told an  Indian businessman,  Atul Patel: 'There's a lot of your family in tonight,'  The ‘ tonight ‘ was  a 400-strong Buckingham Palace reception for British Indians in October 2009.

In India, our  very  own   First Family has made  sincere efforts to keep the junta entertained and cartoonists employed. So , if we have a memorable "hum haarein ya loose-ein" and an even better, albeit belligerent, "nani yaad dila denge” from Rajiv Gandhi , we also have  equally charming howlers from the dimpled prince. From chidingly calling the U.P bhaiyyas in amchi Maharashtra  ‘ beggars’ to diagnosing confidently that 7 out of 10 youth in Punjab are on drugs, to  confessing with disarming  candour  that it is  “very difficult to prevent every terror attack" Rahul  Gandhi has left no stone unturned in ensuring that the country  knows  exactly  what it is in  for, come 2014.
Advani  however, did not anticipate what was in store for him when,  in a burst of  misguided  inspiration  ,  he called    Jinnah  a   secular leader. This,  coming from  the  leader of a party which had always positioned itself for a hindutva which stood against the partition of India and which blamed Jinnah for his role in  the partition , naturally raised a storm which refused to die down and only subsided when a suitably chastised Advani  became  party to a one-page resolution  blaming  Jinnah for the Partition and the violence that followed.

 Gaffes are not  the sole property  of politicians alone.  One of the most controversial statements  John Lennon ever made was in 1966 when he said ,”Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue with that; I'm right and I will be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first — rock and roll or Christianity”. His remarks  sparked  protests across  America. Beatles records were burned en masse but  the band members took this in their stride  , pointing  out that first the people had to buy the albums in order to burn them !                                  

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