Author, poet Meena Kandasamy reacts to ‘flying kiss’, recalls Bharat Jodo Yatra
A post by author and poet Meena Kandasamy from Tamil Nadu, in which she described her own experience during the Bharat Jodo Yatra has gone viral following the ‘flying kiss’ controversy
Dr Meena Kandasamy, the outspoken writer and poet, reacted on Wednesday, 9 August, to the ‘flying kiss’ controversy in the Lok Sabha. Women MPs of the BJP had written a letter to the Speaker alleging that Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was guilty of making an indecent gesture in the House while women were present.
Dr Kandasamy in her post recalled her own experience with Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra and wrote:
The beautiful, charming, most wonderful thing that I noticed about Rahul Gandhi in personal meetings and on the Bharat Jodo Yatra was how comfortable he made women feel around him, and how easy, safe and happy women felt in his presence. There was none of the Uber-masculine shouting-shit that has come to characterise a certain brand of testosterone-driven politics. There was also none of the absolute hypocrisy we have come to expect and observe from male politicians—never shaking hands with women, standing at an arms distance, pretending on-camera celibacy for virtue signalling. Most of all, there was none of the obvious discomfort, lecherous looks, pawing, handsy-ness that one encounters with a sizeable section of male politicians.
What I witnessed was someone with an open heart, open arms, open eyes. He shook hands. He posed for pics without thinking once. He held hands with those who walked by his side. He hugged children, old people, young men, and women. The idea that touch could be de-sexualised, made natural in the public domain was such an impactful thing about the Bharat Jodo Yatra. Day after day, he walked and he cleansed the stereotypes in our stilted thought.Meena Kandsamy
His kindness, his grace, his smile—the way he allowed every inch of him to belong to the people—set him apart.
Of course, these are beyond Sanghis who believe in the Manusmriti—who do not even trust the company of their own daughters, mothers, sisters, friends—because Sanatana Dharma says that women are corrupting influences—such toxic idiots will never understand Rahul Gandhi.
He poses a physical, visceral challenge to their regimentation of our bodies. No wonder they're now creating a ruckus...Meena Kandasamy
The post was seen by over 4 lakh people over the next 18 hours. Many men also responded by complimenting her post.
I think we are all fed up with the spewing of anger, hate, discrimination, hypocrisy that is running 24x7x365 since the last couple of years… and here is RG who can provide a healing touch with love and respect,” one said.a man
We all know and can feel this distinction, what makes us comfortable [and] what uneasy, but it is often hard to explain…! Such irony though that it is women who are leading the charge against RG and are avid cheerleaders of toxic masculinity…a woman
Anand Vardhan, a newsman I like, was spot on about his assessment from a male viewpoint. He said RG's demeanour clearly showed a clean heart (dil bilkul saaf hai) and admitted he himself wouldn't have been able to act in such naturally friendly, endearing way.a man
In 2009, he had come for a public meeting in JNU when I was visiting a friend. After shaking my hand, he proceeded to shake hands with other people and was already at a distance when he turned and said to me, "You are being pushed by other [people]. Be careful."another woman
Of course, the post also attracted trolls who berated the writer for supporting the allegedly undignified behaviour of the Congress MP. Others were even more vicious and said that Rahul Gandhi had no respect for women.
The 3,700-kilometer long Bharat Jodo Yatra undertaken by Rahul Gandhi and over a hundred other yatris (travellers) drew thousands of Indians, both celebrities and ordinary Indians, to walk with him. They held his hands and hugged him. But not a single case of misbehaviour, leave alone molestation, was reported during the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The jury is out there, clearly.