Friday, June 27, 2008

The Motorcycle Diaries

(This is the first piece I attempted for the Edit Page, which finally got edited beyond recognition. The newer version was, admittedly pacier.... but here's mine anyway!)

Pictures of CPI leader A B Bardhan and I&B Minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, riding pillion on a motorcycle conjured up images of the legendary Che Guevara. The impulse to hit the country roads on a two-wheeler might have struck Mr. Bardhan later than it did his incendiary ideological cousin, and might never inspire a movie; it’s possible that the octogenarian leader is looking for a few thrills before he steps down in favour of young guns.

In the era of aerial surveys, one can’t help but admire the earthiness of the veteran leader, and with oil straining the coffers at close to140 dollars a barrel, a motorcycle seems like a definite improvement on a cushy airplane. But he might as well have gone the whole hog on a bullock cart to really identify with the aam aadmi.

Besides, with the various speedbreakers that he and his esteemed colleagues have been busy building on the policymaking front, one could have expected Comrade Bardhan to at least have worn a helmet. At the same time, it is heartening to note that he has finally found common ground with at least one of his UPA buddies, also seen throwing caution to the winds riding side saddle without a helmet.

While their individual road trips are commendable in an age of hands-off politics, one wonders if our leaders even care about the message they are sending out to impressionable young minds. Oh, and are the traffic cops watching?

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