In Haryana, Congress workers and MLAs are taking to the streets in order to fry up pakoras, in a stir over its perception that the BJP has outsourced employment generation to the people. And Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has bought some pakoras from them, in order to express his support for the unemployed. Perhaps he has a better sense of the moment than Amit Shah, who had originally foregrounded the pakora. In the course of his maiden speech in Parliament, he brought us pakoranomics, hitting back at P Chidambaram for showing insufficient enthusiasm for pakora-selling as a profession.
While celebrating pakora-sellers can be read as an attempt to palm off the burden of job-creation to the small entrepreneur, it is surprising that the choice of the pakora itself has not drawn politically correct criticism. Because class is at play here, and specifically, small entrepreneurs innocent of all skills, right at the bottom of the street food chain, are the assigned bearers of the burden. Anyone who can get some stuffing and batter together can make a pakora, and earn affection as a pakora-wallah. But someone who can make samosas, jalebis or confectionery is skilled, and is celebrated as a karigar, or artisan. But politics is not about them.
But rather than splitting hairs over pakora-selling, Khattar has cut to the chase and eaten the pakora. It was at the expense of the Congress, though he paid for what he ate. In a country where food and its ingredients have been political dynamite — salt and onions have unseated governments — it is best to put the stuff away before it gets out of hand.