GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA
An ‘item’ is a thing or an object or a commodity. It is distasteful to call any living being, including animals as an ‘item’. However, the word ‘item’ is almost always used by powerful men to disparage women. It has descended into a sexist reference to belittle a woman. A woman, who is an adversary or a nemesis of a man in the position of influence is many a time called names, and ‘item’ is one such derogatory word found in the dictionary of a few select men. Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath seems to be one such powerful man, who cannot keep his tongue on a leash. Generally, the 73-year-old Congress veteran comes across as suave and cultured. In his long political innings, Kamal Nath has steered clear of controversies involving women and caste. But the senior leader went berserk at his former ministerial colleague and present opponent Imarti Devi of the BJP at an election campaign in the state, which goes to bypolls in twenty eight seats in the first week of November. The former chief minister was at his vituperative best at Dabra where Imarti Devi is contesting on a BJP ticket. Though Kamal Nath has downplayed the ‘item remark’, the damage has been done because the BJP is going hammer and tongs at the Congress. Elections are won and lost on crucial issues and abject controversies. The forgettable word ‘item’ could spell trouble for the Congress. Apart from the chauvinistic tone to ‘item’, that Imarti Devi is a Dalit and has climbed the ladder of political success the hard way has hottened up the election scene in MP. Unfortunately, the issue may remain confined to campaigning and die down after the elections – a stark reflection on Indian politics. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has ‘disapproved’ Kamal Nath’s language though the latter has stood by his stance saying Gandhi’s was his personal opinion. It is improbable to imagine the party taking any action on Kamal Nath, who lives and breathes the Congress party.