Symbols and Substance

Symbols and Substance

In politics, symbols are crucially important. Here’s a list of symbols that are currently providing a shock to the system.

EEEMIn politics, symbols are crucially important. Sharing a stage with members of a minority community, giving an old lady a ride in your SUV, thumping a 56-inch chest, and, to cap it all, headgear that defines who you are. Here’s a list of symbols that are currently providing a shock to the system.

Blue WagonR: R could stand for revolution, it could also stand for revolt, even revolting, depending which end you are seeing it from. Tata’s Nano was meant to be the people’s car, but Arvind Kejriwal’s WagonR has taken over that title. The Delhi Chief Minister’s personal car has become the most visible vehicle in India and used in ways the manufacturer never intended. When it rains, it becomes the venue for a Cabinet meeting or the Chief Minister’s office for clearing urgent files, and, on his daily rounds from residence to protest site, a collection point for petitions. Whether he’s getting the proper mileage remains to be seen.

The Moving Finger: Or, more accurately, the wagging finger of Somnath Bharti, the Delhi Law Minister who was seen flouting the law by demanding midnight raids on People Not Like Us. Fast becoming an embarrassment for acting more like an outlaw, he could well be the first casualty in a government that still thinks, and acts, like a cross between the opposition and an NGO (Non Governing Organisation). Days after the event, the most repeated clip on TV channels is Bharti’s finger-pointing as he substitutes vigilantism for vigilance. We’ve heard of the midnight knock, we now have the midnight knuckle.

The Brown Muffler: Traditionally, a muffler refers to a noise-reducing device (Silencer in India) but silence is the last thing that one associates with Arvind Kejriwal, or his associates. His sartorial tastes are in keeping with the aam aadmi imagery but the item that has set a fashion trend is the brown muffler wrapped around his head and covering half his face. It does give him a somewhat sinister look but his is more for protection than style. Judging by recent events, he needs all the protection he can get to avoid being left out in the cold.


The Loose Tongue: Tongues are wagging as much as fingers as politics in India becomes akin to street theatre, and the tail attempts to wag the dog. Some tongues, however, have been let loose more than others, namely, those belonging to AAP leaders Somnath Bharti and

Kumar Vishwas: Bharti was the spitting image of a Bollywood villain as he fumed and fulminated against Arun Jaitley and Harish Salve, threatening to spit in their faces. Hardly had the spittle died than AAP leader Kumar Vishwas loosed off some racist comments against Kerala nurses, resulting in national outrage. Considering that nurses from that state dominate hospitals across the country, Vishwas better not fall sick.

Blankets: Governments have had cover-ups, but this is unique, a Chief Minister and his Cabinet sleeping on the streets to protest against the government, except they are the government, and getting blanket coverage in the bargain, literally. Delhi’s winter of discontent invites the cold shoulder from the Centre, and so hundreds of blankets were distributed, while the Delhi government implemented its policy of total openness, albeit covered in woollens, which may explain why some now refer to them as woolly-headed.

Thumbs Down: The danger that looms ahead if AAP continues on its present trajectory and the Congress decides to adopt the well known Roman symbol, which basically meant throw them to the lions.