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28 December 2012

Dented and painted...

No, this story is not about a car, how it got dented and was repainted.

This is about a person who came briefly into my life (or shall I say our lives) and left without leaving any lasting impression, and now, after all these years, this person has come back into my life creating 'cognitive dissonance'. 

It was in the year of 1990.

I had been working in Durgapur Steel Plant for about three years. I used to work as an operations engineer working in shifts. Our shift team consisted of a Manager, a deputy / assistant manager, and an assistant / junior manager. As the junior manager in the team, I was the junior most.

One day a new person joined our team as the deputy manager.

Abhijit da (the new joinee) was a short, lean sort of guy, with a thick moustache and thick framed glasses. He was  a serious kind of guy and was quite courteous an nice to all. He was quite a team player, working with us in dirty environments and leading us where required. He had a self-deprecating sense of humour and while he never told any jokes, was prone to laugh heartily when he heard a good'un.

He was very good to talk to. Due to his natural courtesy, he will agree with you most of the time and will also contribute meaningfully to any conversations that we had. The conversations usually were about Durgapur, our boss, the people who we were working with...the usual stuff.

The only area where Abhijit da used to draw the line was when talking politics. I was an avid reader of various political magazines, and I had opinions on everything political. The main political events of those days included Shabano case, India's economic woes, Congress party's weakness...Any time the talk turned political, Abhijit da will cut us out like we were kids. 

He never liked discussing politics. And when he did, he didn't like any of us countering his opinions. He made it clear that he did not have time or patience for our inane observations, amateur theorizing or bookish knowledge of politics. It was almost as if he had been a practitioner, had 'been there, done that' while we were only novices in politics. 

That was unfathomable to me. We Indians love our politics. And here was a guy, who behaved as if he knew everything about politics.

He worked with us for about three years before he moved to Delhi.

Much water has flown down the river hoogly since...

The other day I saw Abhijit da on TV. 

He was in a profusely apologetic mood. he had made a very rash comment when asked about the protests happening in Delhi. Here is what he said:

"Walking in candlelight processions, going to discotheques, we have also led student life, we have been students. I well know what the character of a student should be." 

"Those who are coming in the name of students in the rallies, sundori, sundori mahila (beautiful women), are highly dented and painted," 

"Giving interviews in TV and showing off their children. I wonder whether they are students at all," he said, adding, "what's basically happening in Delhi is something like pink revolution, which has very little connection with ground realities." 

What a terrible, insensitive comment to make. Are you naive, dada?

Apni eita ki korlen dada? Bolar aage janten na ke eai kothar impact-ta ki hote pare?

The impact of the above comment was swift and brutal. His sister came on national TV and apologized to all the women of India who were insulted by this ridiculous remarks, practically disowning Abhijit da. The anchors of national TV networks smelled blood. In the prevailing environment of deep anger and strong resentment against politicians, a politician coming out with such rash remarks was godsend. The newscasters kept pounding on dada and persisted on asking pointed questions. Abhijit da was obviously very uncomfortable. I made a mistake, he said. I have apologized, and will do again if necessary. Now can we forget and move on? He did not mean to insult any women, after all he has a mother, wife and a sister. It was something rash that he said and he was sorry.

I felt bad for him. I know Abhijit da. I have worked with him for three of my and his formative years. The character that you build during those years tend to stay with you. The Abhijit da I knew was very courteous and respectful to women. 

Now he has made a rash statement. And the media was ruthlessly painting him as a villain and uncouth.

Yes, Abhijit da, my ex-colleague, is none other than, Abhijit Mukherjee, son of Pranab Mukherjee, the current President of India. Dada who made an error of judgement and is now taking it on the chin.

Spare him my friends. He made a mistake, accepted it and apologized on National TV. What more do you want? What do you expect to gain?

Abhijit da was man enough to come on national TV and apologize profusely for an error of judgement. How many of them politicians out there are decent enough to apologize for their errors?

Let us grow up and stop thrashing him and accept his apology. I am sure he meant it. 

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