BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: “Tharoor has termed economy class in airlines as cattle class. (This reflects) the insensitivity of the minister. This tantamounts to (causing) deep injury to the self-respect and esteem of millions who travel economy class,” Rudy said in a statement here. [Link]
Yes Rudy sahab. Shashi Tharoor definitely deserves to be hung by his udders. But before that is done pahele us aadmi ke sign leke aao who named “second class” in trains as”second class” in the process hurting the self-respect and esteem of billions of people who travel “second class” everyday, people who go home and weep copiously and wonder whether they are “first class” citizens of the country.
In Indian politics, every month is idiot season but this month the moron flu seems to be particularly virulent. Much as I would like to believe that no one in the BJP knows (or cannot find out) that cattle class is colloquialism for “economy class” and not a neologism invented by Tharoor the elitist, I think that is not the case though considering the geriatrics who run the party (and yes blogging does not make you “with it”) I would not be surprised if it was. What I believe is more likely is that the BJP, with tar dripping from its face after the Jaswant fiasco, is trying to do a Nursery 2 “Nanni Nanni Boo Boo…” to the Congress, engaging in the worst kind of “You suck” behavior which, anywhere outside the sandpit, looks juvenile and idiotic.
But BJP I understand though not necessarily condone. What is beyond the pale is the Congress reaction to this comment made by one of its most qualified and erudite and non-controversial of its ministers. Says Jayanti Natarajan,
The party strongly disapproves of this expression (cattle class). It may be slang or a jargon but we find it unacceptable. Since thousands of Indians travel by economy class…We don’t approve of this articulation,” AICC spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said at a press briefing at the party headquarters here. [Link]
Now in this culture of “competitive intolerance” we have trouble as it is with people getting “offended” by assorted things from Sardar jokes by SMS to the use of the phrase “Apna haath Jagannath” in Kaminey. However to show outrage at a remark at which noone has taken offense, outrage of the kind that even those who incite riots or commit economic crimes are not subject to is, for the word of a stronger word, ridiculous. I correct myself. People are offended inside the Congress not so much at the “cattle class” part of the Tweet but (also pointed out by Prem) because of the phrase “holy cows”. Now I do not know whether Mr. Tharoor meant the Queen Mother and the Brave Prince but evidently many people in the Congress think so or are at least falling over themselves to demonstrate that anything that could imply something negative against the overlords will not be tolerated.(The man is being pressurized to resign because of this) In the process of course they prove exactly what they condemn—-that the Congress has “holy cows” against whom any remark considered remotely snide will be struck down”with great vengeance and with furious anger”
All this however just goes to show that Indian politics, despite its Youngistan garb, isn’t a place for “normal” people with even a very “normal” sense of humor and that democracy in India is merely a garb for the worst kind of feudalism. Parties like the Congress do like capable educated administrators however as long as they “aankhen neeche rakh” know their place, serve silently and keep warm the seats for the consecrated ones. In other words, you can steal and you can kill and be a history-sheeter and no one has any problem with these minor infractions but exercise your right of free speech and make even a cursory remark which may be interpreted as “snide” and then you have to hold your ears and then write on the board 108 times “Gaaye humaare maata hai, humme kuch naheen aata hai”.