Private lives and public concerns
Mainstream Indian media usually don’t publicise the sex lives of politicians or celebrities, but mushrooming TV channels are changing the rules of the game. The secret recording of ND Tiwari’s brave bedroom attempts is the latest example.
That also raises the question of whether a public figure’s private life is a matter of public concern. If so, to what extent?
Just around the same time of the broadcast of the Tiwari tapes, in Kerala, the police arrested a senior Congress leader for “immoral activities.”
Short versions of the story had appeared in the national media but the incident was like this.
Rajmohan Unnithan, a member of the AICC and spokesperson of the Congress state unit was at the house of a party colleague, with Jayalakshmi, a third Congress leader. The house owner was not present. At night, a group of CPI-M activists – who belong to the ruling party – surrounded the house. Panicked, Unnithan called the police. The police arrived; and for hours did not see a reason for any police action.
But the CPI-M mob would not budge – they wanted Unnithan and Jayalakshmi arrested for “immoral activities.” Finally, both were arrested and subjected to a medical test to ascertain whether they had sex. The test proved they did not. Both were granted bail by a court next day, but by then CPI-M controlled channels and papers had celebrated the victory of “morality over immorality”; and Unnithan had been suspended from the party.
Isn’t it disgusting that a man and woman had to prove through a medical test that they did not have sex just because a bunch of goons suspected their morality?
CPI-M is never tired of pontificating on women’s rights and the need for more women in public life. Is it also part of the party policy to go around and ensure that no woman sleeps with whomever she may want to?
Retuning to the original question, the public concern about a public figure’s personal life must be limited to how it affects public policies. If a politician accepts sex as bribe and harms public interest, that is a matter of public concern.
Otherwise, what he or she does in the bedroom is none of our business.