Reality Bites: It’s ugly when a ‘leader’ heckles a woman at an election rally and shouts, ‘Didi, oh Didi…’

Leaders set tone for their party and BJP’s WB party chief didn’t disappoint. Dilip Ghosh said Ms Banerjee “insults” Bengali culture because her bandaged leg (a terribly sore point with him) is visible

Reality Bites: It’s ugly when a ‘leader’ heckles a woman at an election rally and shouts, ‘Didi, oh Didi…’

Rupa Gulab

Election campaign season is when parties should look their best, but the BJP comes across as the worst. News channels have been ordered to show us almost non-stop footage of the Big Fat Stadium dashing to West Bengal and Assam every other day and addressing mainly hired crowds because for small people, size matters.

If he loves the east so much, why doesn’t he just live there? I’m sure Nitin Gadkari can lend him his scam-ridden Scania luxury bus to move his extensive hat collection. I can assure you that hankies will be as dry as khakras if he leaves Delhi forever. It’s hard to love someone who gets so angry because you didn’t vote for his party that he creates a law to limit the powers of the elected government.

Apart from the usual toxic bigotry (which includes his sidekick calling migrants from Bangladesh termites), we have been treated to large doses of misogyny. In Assam the Big Fat Stadium lied that there was an international conspiracy against Indian tea and referred to a harmless toolkit by young climate activists—fortunately, he did not name Greta Thunberg (the world would have scoffed at him) or Disha Ravi (mummies and daddies may have remembered that she was jailed by his government, pursed their lips, and fallen out of love with him).

In West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee was his target. Most of us tune out his taunts, and besides we can count on Ms Banerjee to lob them back in her inimitable style. However, his latest attack on her will be lodged in my memory. He showed the nation that you do not have to be a dignified statesman to be prime minister—you can just be your natural self, like those ads tell you to. He shouted “Didi, oh Didi! Didi, oh Didi! Didi, oh Didi!” while misogynists in the hired crowd cheered, and reminded every woman of the horrors of being heckled on the streets.

His termite-obsessed sidekick, however, is a little more refined. No startling remarks from him, only his usual insults. It seems he has this weird thing for insects. He has claimed that Dengue and Malaria are Ms Banerjee’s friends, and swears he will throw them out along with her. Psst: He failed to mention that Delhi is India’s dengue and malaria capital, he’s lived there for seven years now, and fat lot he’s done about that!

Leaders set the tone for their party, and the BJP’s West Bengal party chief did not disappoint. Dilip Ghosh said that Ms Banerjee “insults” Bengali culture because her bandaged leg (a terribly sore point for the BJP) is visible, and added, “If you want to display your legs, why a saree, wear a pair of Bermudas so everyone can have a good look." The best comeback to this came from journalist Salil Tripathi on Twitter: “She isn't with the RSS that's why she won't wear shorts.”

It’s not the Bermuda shorts that got to me, it was his sneer about people getting a good look at her legs. Which reminds me of Uttarakhand’s BJP chief minister who makes snide remarks about women who wear ripped jeans and expose their (gasp) knees. Then there’s the sex scandal involving a BJP minister in Karnataka, and sensational CDs about other ministers too.

As I type this, the Big Fat Stadium is on his first trip abroad since the Covid pandemic, and as usual has been booed at by protestors—rubber bullets and tear gas were used to shush them up. He’s possibly India’s first prime minister who attracts protestors wherever on earth he goes. He’s in neighbouring TermiteDesh (that’s what his party fondly calls Bangladesh), hoping to score points for the West Bengal elections. Meanwhile, I’m praying that Dilip Ghosh does not put his foot in his mouth and make unseemly remarks about Bangladesh’s prime minister’s legs too. She’s also a Bengali lady who wears sarees, remember?

After such hateful campaigns, it’s not surprising that citizens are not exactly charmed. “Vote for anyone but the BJP” is the common refrain, and Tollywood has put spineless Bollywood to shame with a music video that urges people to resist the ideology of hate. Fingers crossed—hey, it’s about time the BJP realises that money can’t buy them love.

(Any resemblance to real events or people is a coincidence)

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