A sex video has surfaced and a party is deeply embarrassed. The party took no time to remove him from the cabinet. A political party which is in the business of perception management, which vouched for the character of its leaders while admitting them as members, had no other option than this. The same logic was applied to two other colleagues. A few months back, an audio clip was sent to us about a minister and the party decided to sack him in five minutes. Similarly, a few days ago, one more sting came to our notice and the party did not hesitate to take action against the gentleman. These were cases of financial corruption which were self-evident. But this video is different.
This video encompasses pictures of a man and woman indulging in a sexual act. The video clearly establishes that both individuals knew each other and consented to sex in a private space away from the public glare. The question then is that if two consenting adults are physically involved with each other, is it a crime? Is it editorially justified that this becomes a headline in newspapers and TV channels? The woman seen in the video is not coerced by any stretch of imagination. She has not even complained after the act to anyone. She has not gone public complaining of any wrongdoing. She has not registered any complaint either to the police or to the court. She has not even approached the family of the man. Neither has the wife of the man expressed any divergent view on the conduct of the man. He has not blackmailed the woman. He is not seeking any sexual favour for any obligation. He has not pressured her to get in the act. It's not rape. It's a case of two adults with their consent indulging in sex. Then why should this sex video be discussed at all? Why should it be made public? Why should it be linked to the character of the man and the party? Why should it create headlines? What wrong has the man done?
I agree that Sandeep Kumar is a public figure, and to be in the public glare one, has to pay a certain price. A public figure can't enjoy many discretions that an ordinary citizen can. A public figure probably cannot openly smoke, drink and flirt with the opposite sex, but he or she is entitled to his or her private space and he or she should not be chased there. So whatever Sandeep Kumar has done in private, without inviting any complaints from his partner: should it create ripples in the media and in politics? This video exposes the hypocrisy of the society and hollowness of the media. How the video has been treated on air by certain TV channels informs us about the bankruptcy of some editors occupying high positions in the media industry.
Sex is a part of our basic instincts. Like eating, drinking and breathing, sex is also natural. But as society evolved, sex has become attached to the parameters of morality. In India, sex has been a taboo for a very long time; it is still trying to free itself. The West experienced a sexual revolution in the 1960s when Indian cinema was content with two flowers kissing each other to show lovers getting cozy. Since then, India has covered many miles. An on-the-mouth kiss which at one time was blasphemous is now the in thing in Indian cinema. Having many partners before marriage in big metros does not shock at all. Sex before marriage is no longer an issue. Virginity is not a virtue any more. Virginity for younger generation these days is a hint of being left behind in the social race and such a person is not a subject of envy. He/she is neither hot nor cool, just unwanted, undesired.
With all its social infirmities, India in its larger consciousness has never questioned its leaders about what they do or have done in their private moments. Indian politics has not replicated the American example which literally robbed the political career of charismatic Garry Hart who was caught on a yacht with his girlfriend in the 1980s. Till then he was planning to launch himself as a serious presidential candidate, but one picture ruined his ambition and since then, nobody has heard about him.
Indian history is full of examples of our leaders and heroes who had lived with their desires beyond social boundaries. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru's reported affairs with many female colleagues were juicy gossip but it didn't spoil his political career. His relationship with Edwina Mountbatten is widely discussed. The entire world knew about it. Their affections continued till Pt. Nehru's last breath. Was it a sin? History is also witness to the fact that top leaders of the Congress in 1910s were worried about Gandhiji's relationship with Sarla Chaudhary, who was distantly related to Rabindra Nath Tagore. Gandhi Ji had confessed that Sarla was his spiritual wife. Kasturba Gandhi was very disturbed. C Rajagopalchari and other senior leaders of the party had to intervene. They persuaded, pressured, cajoled Gandhi-ji to leave Sarla. Gandhiji in his later days slept naked with his two nieces to experiment with celibacy. Pandit Nehru had told him not to do so as the country would rise against him but Gandhi-ji did not budge.
Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia used to say that every relationship between a man and a woman is right if it is not defined by coercion and manipulation. He had a lifelong partner and lived with her without marriage. His colleague George Fernandes was married to Laila Kabir, but this was never a problem for his friendship with Jaya Jaitley. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not married in true RSS tradition but he said in parliament that he is a bachelor not celibate. He openly lived with his college friend and society did not object even once.
Chinese leader Mao Je Dong with the present TV stupidity would certainly have been pilloried as the most sinful man ever born. According to his biographer Zhisui Li, Mao was so obsessed with sex that he needed young girls every night; special arrangements were been made by his bodyguards wherever he went. He writes, "Mao's sexual activity was not confined to women. The young males who served as his attendants were invariably handsome and strong and one of their responsibilities was to administer a nightly massage as an additional aid to sleep."
Maybe these leaders were fortunate as they didn't live in the TV era; they were not caught on camera; no sting operation was done. As a puzzled individual may I ask why the SEX VIDEO of two consenting adults should grab headlines of the day and why should it be debated on TV channels? If it is a sin and a certificate for characterless-ness, then the role of all the above great leaders in history should also be re-assessed and reevaluated.
As a novice, I can only say that it is easy to trash AAP but difficult to point fingers at these gentlemen because they were very powerful people. AAP can be attacked and insulted because we are small and toddlers in politics. But may I tell you it is always the toddler who changes the course of time and history.
(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014.
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