Command and not demand respect

It happened over a decade back. JD (U) leader Sharad Yadav was contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Budaun in Uttar Pradesh when I happen to meet him at a guest house there.

I was not very old in the profession and was still struggling to adapt to the rusticity of Uttar Pradesh after my migration via marriage to Lucknow from Delhi.

He was taking rest in the guest house while his opponents were sweating it out in the open. As usually not all politicians in the Hindi heartland show the basic courtesy of leaving the bed to welcome the guests, even if they are women, I did not expect the same from him. We were told to pull up the chairs and the conversation begun.

He sounded overconfident. The moment I mentioned the same, he flared up. “What do you understand about UP politics? Convent educated girls have no idea whatsoever how elections are fought and won. Go and live in a bee-infested dirty village to know what rural India is all about.”

I was furious. I got up and left his room telling him sardonically, “I may not be familiar with UP politics, but I can tell you for sure that you are losing the election.”

A few years later I heard him make a hugely objectionable statement about girls with short hair while opposing quota for women. A few angry protests were heard then. May be because the issue of ‘mindset’ was not so pronounced as it became today after unwarranted and uncharitable comments against the gang rape victim in specific and against women– her dresses, her marital relations – in general. What worries me is that majority of the politicians, who are presently talking in tune with the public sentiments actually think in the same conservative manner. Overhear their discussion and you would know the regard that they have for the women folk. And this they have been doing much before the ‘Bollywood started commodifying’ women.

And now the saints have joined them. Asaram Bapu has not traveled by scarce public transport or he would not have blamed the poor girl for entering the bus with six men. They have luxurious vehicles for their rides across the country and globe. I don’t understand why RSS should comment on marital relations when they don’t believe in matrimony. I am referring to Mohan Bhagwat’s absurd statement describing marriage as a contract.

The fact is that a woman will continue to remain a subject of ridicule till the time they don’t display their clout as a demanding vote bank. Only then they would offer more power to women, more seats/positions to women and more respect to women.

After all respect is commanded and not demanded.

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