View Point: Amidst allegations and counter allegations over who released the sex CD of Hardik Patel, it is quite apparent now that the scandal would backfire on BJP.
In politics, especially during the high voltage election narrative, character assassination in general and sudden surfacing of sex controversy in particular is tried & tested political ammunition. Gujarat is, any way, a laboratory of such experiments and the political irrelevance of Sanjay Joshi, BJP’s star campaigner in the state, following a sex CD is still fresh in the collective consciousness even after over a decade.
The then 39-year-old bachelor and a pillar to the BJP’s organizational management was relegated to the political dustbin following the scandal in 2005. A man close to the BJP’s ideological mentor RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was deserted within the party as well as the RSS.
Many alleged it to be the handwork of party insiders as his exit also paved way for the unquestionable reins of Narendra Modi in the State. Much water has flown since then and the surfacing of Hardik Patel’s sex CD has yet again given an opportunity for the opposition to allege that the challenger to Narendra Modi is being fixed through sex scandal in the BJP’s trademark style.
The fact that Sanjay Joshi’s CD was later proved to be doctored also lends credence to the perception that sex CD is an instrument in the hands of political mercenaries in the state.
Will the sex CD result into political assassination of yet another promising and emerging challenger in Gujarat? It is highly unlikely this time around and the fact that Hardik had himself speculated in advance about emergence of a sex CD to malign his character makes the timing of the CD release a poor strategist’s desperation.
Why Hardik Patel’s Sex CD would backfire?
Hardik Patel could change the narrative from sex scandal to right to private life
Patidar community by and large against the BJP
Close confidante strongly with Hardik; community has not deserted him
Sanjay Joshi’s doctored sex CD still fresh in public memory
Hardik smartly turning tables to claim women of state being insulted
In my opinion the sex CD will only mobilise the support base of young Patidar leader as a perception has gained ground that he is a real challenger to the might of state. As a society we have always supported the underdogs, the challengers and the rebels, whether locking horns for the reasons right or wrong.
However, this is not the only reason why I feel is that sex CD will backfire on BJP, whether or not they planted it. One can vouchsafe that even if BJP’s allegations that Patel himself got it done is true, it has been a smart move by the young leader to bring to spotlight what had happened with Sanjay Joshi.
The difference between Sanjay Joshi and Hardik Patel is that while Joshi was immediately dumped by the BJP and the RSS, sympathisers of Hardik are in no mood to sacrifice the challenger for what he does in his private life.
The debate today, following the sex scandal, is clearly about whether consensual sex is objectionable in politics and whether someone’s personal moments should be made public. Joshi in contrast did not have this luxury. Had the party and the Sangh backed him for some time, the story would have been entirely different following the evidences that his sex CD was doctored.
Gujarat, as far as its social outlook is concerned, is very progressive state and definitely not like some other backward states where the mere allegation of sex makes one lose his or her virginity.
Moreover, Hardik Patel is more rebel than Sanjay Joshi who had read the writing on the wall by the cold shoulder given to him by the RSS and surrendered meekly. In contrast, Hardik knows that the upcoming State Assembly Elections are probably ‘Now or Never’ moment for him and hence he is playing on front foot with bold statements to claim that he is yet to marry and he is not impotent. There is definitely a clear design to turn the narrative from morality in the public life to one’s individual righto privacy.
What has also came as a shot in the arm of Hardik Patel that the other enfant terrible for the BJP in the state, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mavani, have expressed their solidarity with Hardik. As a matter of fact, Jignesh went a step further to say, “Right to sex is a fundamental right. No one has the right to breach your privacy.”
So, who are moral police joining chorus with the BJP workers in the state? Definitely not the core constituency that the young Patidar leader represents today!
Beyond the pious hypocrisy of a section of India’s middle class idle social media addicts, let’s face the fact that the sex CD has failed to convert adversity into political opportunity for the BJP. In his political movement to grant reservation for his community, the young Gujarati leader had never sworn celibacy in his personal life. The CD does nowhere prove that Patel had raped the woman, or the sex (not conclusive in CD) was not consensual.
Patel’s narrative that Gujarat women have been insulted is the key to what precisely this sex CD would lead to. With his core constituency rallying around him, if the scandal could antagonize a section of women against the BJP then the electoral arithmetic of the state would surprise even the political experts of Gujarat.
The young but matured Hardik knows that he does not have much to lose but the miscalculation with the sex CD would cost the BJP even greater. Now it is not Hardik Patel but the BJP that seems to be on the back foot. The repeated denials on part of the BJP and party’s hesitant approach in repeating it in election speeches clearly reflect that the scandal has backfired on the BJP.
By: Ravi Sinha