Painted and dented musings

By the time the President of India's son made a spectacular ass of himself on national television I had already spent many hours musing, in a painted and dented sort of way, upon the behaviour of the chief resident of Raisina Hill. Why did he not meet the protesters on the very first day? When the crowds of angry women swelled the next day and tried to get into Rashtrapati Bhavan, why did he not come out and speak to them? Why did he not accept the petition they tried to give him? Why did he not show the smallest hint of compassion for the brutally raped young medical student? In my musings, I asked the same questions about the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi and the young MPs who were so vocal inside the Lok Sabha after the horror happened. And, most of all I mused over the mysterious absence of the man who the Congress Party will make prime minister if it wins in 2014. Where was he?

His Mummy, we heard, came out late one evening and talked to protesters who had gathered outside her house but if this happened, why was the meeting kept secret? Usually when India's most reclusive political leader deigns to grant an audience, television reporters fall over themselves trying to get a picture or just a sound byte. With hundreds of them covering the protests at India Gate, five minutes away from 10 Janpath, how is it that nobody managed to get any visuals of the audience?

If a single political leader had come out to meet the protesters and tried to share their rage there would perhaps have been no teargas shells, no lathi charge and no violence. So why did it not happen? In trying to answer these questions, in my painted and dented way, I have found myself deducing that none of our political leaders have noticed that in the past few years a new kind of voter has come into being. The profile of this new voter is middle class, aspirational, urban, angry and sick to death of rotten governance and rotten politicians. These voters first became evident when Anna Hazare started his movement against corruption but they have been around longer than that. They have been around since the 2009 election when the Sonia-Manmohan government won its second term.

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