The Virtues of Holding One’s Tongue

Written by Badri Raina | Published on: December 27, 2017

It is an abomination to think that Mani Shankar Aiyer would ever be of the same colour as the Sangh Parivar

Some days  prior tro the  end of the campaigning for the second phase of the Gujarat Assembly elections, the Cambridge–educated Mani Shankar Aiyer  made a rather grievously ill-timed faux pas—one that played directly as grist to t he Modi-mill of  lachrymose  breast-beating  about his allegedly targeted persona.

How much of factor this may have been in the actual loss of the Congress is hard to quantify, but a factor it did become.

On the heels of this occurrence  came another comment, no faux pas th is time, from the newly-minted Congressman, Alpesh Thakore; asked in a leading sort of way in a press interaction whether Aiyer might have said what he had said about PM Narendra Modi in order to help the Bharatiya Janata Party, Alpesh promptly assented to this mischievous suggestion  from the reporter, offering to say that Aiyer had indeed been a fifth columnist, and that earlier as well, in 2014, Mani Shankar had made a comment about Modi which had likewise helped him unleash a campaign.

For someone who has known Aiyer over a long period of time, been attentive to his long career in politics and in the Congress Party, and read his work, all the above makes for a painful context.

While it is true that Aiyer has a fetish about Cambridge and needs to acknowledge that those who have not had the good fortune to go to Cambridge may also be worthwhile people, it is an abomination to think that he would ever be of the same colour as the Sangh Parivar, or the least inclined to help its shenanigans. 

Indeed, often his verbal excesses  repeatedly underline his intense aversion to the Sangh and his unbending allegiance to  Nehruvian secularism.  One has no hesitation is saying that  after all scions of every political party cross over to the Sangh, Mani  Shankar would be the last man standing his ground.  To then hear such a man of indubitable ideological integrity so casually maligned by a neophyte in politics is acutely distressing, although not even Aiyer’s worst enemies are likely to be taken in by the cavalier Alpesh Thakore comment.

It seems to us that the new Congress President may consider doing two conjoint things: have a heart to heart with the already contrite Mani Shankar, and revoke his suspension from the Party, and, concomitantly, advise Thakore to  consult with authorized spokespersons of  the party before venturing on observations that  are ill-informed and inexcusable.

One of the examples that Rahul Gandhi has set during the Gujarat campaign is to speak with responsible and truthful decorum in the public arena. This example is worthy of emulation by all Congress persons and all politicians. This includes Mani Shanker Aiyer who, scintillating intellectual that he is, sometimes forgets that he doubles up as a  politician and thus must learn to couch his contempt in language that is politic rather than offensively in-your-face.