NEW DELHI: Rajya Sabha MP and lone warrior Dr. Subramanian Swamy was outspoken and politically incorrect as always when he expressed his views about humour and the Indian sociopolitical scenario at a book launch event here.
The event, held at India Islamic Cultural Centre on Monday evening, was to launch the book Unreal Aliens written by Karthik Laxman, founder of the news-satire website The UnReal Times. The event was also attended by NITI Ayog member Bibek Debroy, and was moderated by Rahul Roushan, founder of Faking News and currently with Swarajya group, of which OpIndia.com is now a part
Both Prof. Debroy and Dr. Swamy lamented that the space for humour was shrinking gradually from public lives, and especially so in the Indian parliament, where proceedings are becoming more and more acerbic and acrimonious with each session.
While Prof. Debroy outlined how the first amendment to the Indian constitution itself was a factor in causing this decline not only in the parliament but in the society too, Dr. Swamy was more direct in his criticism.
Dr. Swamy blamed Indira Gandhi for introducing this “intolerance” against humour in the parliament. He said that Mrs. Gandhi, unlike her father, would weigh every statement on a scale that didn’t have the aspect of humour or satire at all. There was snooping on people for their statements, and even innocuous statements said in jest would be twisted for political purposes under the Indira Gandhi regime, the BJP leader said.
“These days media is doing the same,” he said about deliberately twisting statements of people that are said in jest or satirically.
When asked if he can name a few politicians from today’s era who have sense of humour, Swamy said he would need to think for 24 hours before replying.
But he showered compliments on some parliamentarians from the old era for having a sense of humour.
“(Atal Bihari) Vajpayee had a very good sense of humour. I didn’t like him but I’ve to admit that he had it,” Swamy said in his inimitable style.
“Even Rajiv Gandhi had a good sense of humour,” he added. When asked if Rahul Gandhi had inherited some of that (sense of humour) in his view, Swamy said, “He (Rahul Gandhi) has no sense at all.”
Apart from Rahul Gandhi, Swamy trained his guns at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too, whom he blamed for bad implementation of the demonetisation drive, which he otherwise hailed as a good step.
In fact, Swamy said, in jest of course, that aliens should take away Arun Jaitley. The context was the book Unreal Aliens where aliens invade the earth, especially India, and how the Modi government tackles the issue. Even Dr. Swamy features in the book, apart from Arvind Kejriwal and Arnab Goswami and many other public figures from politics, Bollywood, and media.
Prof. Bibek Debroy was all praise for the book and recommended it for having a wholesome laugh. He also shared a funny anecdote on how he once thought that a name plate with “Vivek Oberoi” printed on it was a mistake around his name, and he got it changed, only to notice later that the Bollywood actor was also present at the event.
Karthik Laxman, author of Unreal Aliens, was asked why did he choose aliens as challenge for Modi government over something like thousands of clones of Arvind Kejriwal.
“I wanted to write humour, not horror,” he said, “Also, you can find a purpose behind any steps by aliens, the same can’t be said about Mr. Kejriwal.”
Unreal Aliens has been published by Penguin India and can be bought online from Amazon.