Monday, 7 July 2014

And now free Brides for Votes


The exercise for garnering votes in lieu of freebes (or near freebes) began some three decades ago, when rice was offered to the masses at two rupees a kilo and Janata sarees and mixer grinders for free during Assembly elections . Then the offers began to go up steadily, to free colour TVs, kitchen utensils and free laptops . And now a BJP member of Parliament has topped the charts by offering a free import of brides from poverty riddled Bihar to Haryana's young bachelors if his party is voted to power in the soon to be held Assembly elections in their horribly female deficient state .  This is especially ironical coming as it does, from a Party that not only fielded a formidable band of sisters during the recent Lok Sabha Elections, but also helped them win with impressive margins : Smriti Irani ( of Tulsi fame ) , Uma Bharati (of Ayodhya fame ) , Nirmala Sitaraman and Ms Lekhi whose debating skills during TV panel discussions can silence even brother Goswami ( Arnab not Tulsidas ) . But curiously the proverbial cat seems to have got their tongues while a brother MP offered to import young girls as free brides from Bihar . As though women in poor states were no different from cattle .

Truth be told, when the subject is women and their human rights, underneath all their loud pro women banter, nearly all India’s political parties display the same mindset their forefathers had a hundred years ago . The same sudden flashes of temper are seen ( as in West Bengal) when an MP threatened to have women from families in the Opposition raped by his goons ; and another repeated the age old 'boys will be boys' chant ,when faced with a horrendous rise in gang rapes in a state ruled by his own son . So it may be sad but certainly is not surprising, that an MP makes what he considers a most charitable offers when he offers unmarried men in Haryana Bihari brides for free if they will vote for his Party. You see, he argues sweetly, the brides’ families in poverty stricken Bihar too get a good deal since they can now marry off their daughters without a dowry .  

Every politician in India knows , how in the increasingly volatile atmosphere of a pre Election period , vote bank bases can be broadened only by successful rabble rousing , and that without a mob there can be no rabble rousing . How are mobs to be attracted in the first place ? Lectures about good governance or a shining economy may attract the media and the academe , but vast vote banks can only be created by conjuring imaginary threats to one's religious culture or the danger of the male line in families with unmarried sons coming to an end . The young rabble thus attracted is bound to become the most determined carrier of contempt for women as human beings with a free will and democratic rights. Since Mahabharata days , the history of India is a history of clashes not between opposing streams in politics , but between this beast that thinks nothing of murdering fetuses and smothering the still small voice of non mob beings .

What happened in Haryana and the politely supportive noises made by Mr Dhankad’s political brothers from the BJP in Bihar thereafter, is not a freak happening . It is the product of a whole chain of discourses that reflect the violent process of smashing of the rights of Indian women by powerful male manipulators across states again and again. Luckily for the manipulators , the central leadership at this point, is not keen to get involved . So it has so far stood aside . They are also aware that the proposed Haryana model (creating an electoral template for predatory bachelor voters) may not be not rooted in nationally acceptable political principles of fair play , or sound demographics , but it can attract male votes . By selling a naïve belief , that it is possible for Haryana to enjoy all the benefits of a mostly male population and overlook the brazen misuse of cheap migrant brides imported from poorer states, the sellers are covering up another ugly fact . Families of men in the states of Haryana and neighbouring Punjab have killed female fetuses relentlessly for two decades, and are already buying brides from Bihar and Orissa . These women who do not even speak their language are then often forced to work on the farms and abort fetuses if furtively done ultra sound tests confirm the gender of the unborn to be female . This supposedly large hearted offer to marry unwanted daughters without a dowry is a huge lie . The bride price paid by grooms has given the buyers the added benefit of creating stronger male centredness among the locals and keeping any signs of comeuppance in the migrant brides firmly in check . What , one may ask , does it mean to be a bride in a macho state, destined to be governed by such MPs ?





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