“A personal security officer of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati touched a new low when he bent down to wipe her dusty shoes with his handkerchief during her visit to the district”. That’s the Times Of India on February 8. Will our news channels be far behind? They had a ball, as did the opposition parties in UP. The Congress, BJP, SP and, of course, our friends in the media like Rajdeep Sardesai and the rest.
And it’s even funnier when you hear the media or a Congressman calling it ‘feudal’ or ‘sycophancy’. What does Mayawati think she is? And why the hell is she wearing shoes anyway? Why can’t she learn anything from that intellectual called Rahul Gandhi who’s so bright in every which way. Sometime in February last year during Rahul Gandhi’s visit to Mumbai in the midst of a Shivsena agitation, a Congress minister carried his shoes. You see that way there is no chance your shoes can get muddy and no one needs to clean it. And no one can accuse you of sycophancy or feudalism.
It is highly unfair of that security guard to have cleaned Mayawati’s dirty shoes. Such shoes are reserved for the likes of P. Chidambaram. I wonder what PC did with the shoes thrown at him. Were they dirty and soiled? Wait, even former Pak president Musharraf is reported to have shoes hurled at him just yesterday.
And it all started with poor old George W with that Iraqi journalist throwing shoes at him. Sometime back a rule was imposed at a student meeting of Rahul Gandhi. ‘Nobody is to wear shoes to the meeting’. We have come to fear shoes so much! And our political tryst with shoes go a long way back.
Sometime in 1977, Nani Palkhivala had stooped to measure Lillian Carter’s shoes (President Jimmy Carter’s mother) presumably to buy her some from India. This came to be known as ‘Shoe-string diplomacy’ I guess. The BJP (then part of the Janata Party in 1977) criticising Mayawati may have forgotten how important a role shoes play in politics and diplomacy. Palkhivala then explained that touching shoes or feet of elders is a sign of respect in Indian culture.
As recently as December 2010 TRS chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao promised to wash Sonia Gandhi’s feet if she gives statehood to Telengana. Scared as she was, Sonia Gandhi has since decided to wear shoes all day long, never letting KCR anywhere near her feet. It’s altogether a different matter that she often has her foot in her mouth for protection as well. The media celebrates shoes like nothing else. After all, 'boot-licking' is part of their daily chores.
|My collection of shoes for the media keeps growing!|
I have a collection of shoes too. A big pile. And they are exclusively reserved and piled in front of a pic of the Indian mainstream media. I add a shoe every day. My prayers are simple, someday I hope some security guard will mend the media’s ‘soles’ !