The scene of Vithal Radadiya, the MP from Porbandar, Gujarat, brandishing a gun at a toll plaza and scaring the toll attendants, was shocking. Yet, what followed is the malaise of Indian politics and why the common man remains disgusted with politicians and political parties.
Radadiya is an influential caste leader in Saurashtra. This is why the Congress did not act against him after the gun-brandishing incident. Instead, it allowed him to contest the Gujarat assembly polls in December last. That he could withstand the Narendra Modi onslaught and win proved his electoral prowess. After Radadiya was not made the Congress leader in the assembly, he decided to join the BJP.
One would have hoped that the BJP, and Modi in particular, both of whom are keen to show themselves as different, would have kept Radadiya out, if only to send the message that no matter how influential or powerful they are, goons and gun-toting MPs have no place in a civilised society. Alas, that was not to be. The BJP decided that Radadiya is too influential to be ignored, and that votes matter more than good behaviour.
Such willingness is what lets politicians like Radadiya get away with bad behaviour; they know that if they can get votes, their behaviour does not matter. Modi may have ensured votes for the BJP in Saurashtra, but he and his party have lost the high moral ground across the country.