Nepotism, political patronage and vested interests (including religion-based, caste-based,
sect-based support) have made many of the persons participating in the electoral
fray shoo-in candidates for political office. This is especially true where many
of the supporters are barefoot, eking out a hand-to-mouth existence and believing
that their sole salvation lies in electing their well-heeled candidates.
In constituencies where the electorate is more knowledgeable, many voters have put
their foot down and refuse to toe the dominant party line. Some of the bolder citizens
(including a couple of journalists) have resorted to thinking on their feet as their
unlaced emotions compel them to toss their shoes at the candidates running for office.
It is ironic that political candidates who reach out to impress the public and the
press, now feel hard pressed to retreat and are expressing their views from a safe
distance. Some tactile politicians have tactfully increased their handlers while
reducing their glad-handing contact with their voters to keep their candidacies intact.
Narendra Modi, the CM of Gujarat has resorted to protecting himself from free-flying
footwear by installing a wire mesh around his podium. There seem to be a number
of souls in the state with a disdainful disposition who have taken a position on
dispossessing their shoes. A minority village in the Narmada area has strung up
a line of old shoes at the entry point to the village. The villagers want to ensure
that most overreaching political candidates will understand the underlying message
as they stand under the arch of shoes.
Mayavati, the UP CM has relegated the press to a safe location, beyond a “shoe throw”
distance. Mayavati has not discriminated in terms of the caste of the press but
cast the press far enough to prevent them from casting their footwear or other projectiles
and yet kept the press near enough so that they can broadcast her every word.