BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur recently delayed a flight for 45 minutes, because she felt entitled enough to sit in the emergency exit row of an aircraft and then threw a tantrum when denied her wishes. As per a news report in The Indian Express, Thakur was asked by the crew on Delhi-Bhopal flight to move to a non-emergency row seat as she was in a wheelchair. Thakur however refused, which led to a row. Can you imagine a commoner throwing such a tantrum on a flight and the treatment that’ll be met out to her or him? Does being an elected leader give Thakur, or any politician for that matter the agency to raise an unreasonable demand, without putting a thought into how it may affect the well-being of other people around them? Does a common people’s time have no value?
- Pragya Thakur apparently delayed a flight by 45 minutes, due to a row over seat change.
- Is the time of common passengers not of any value to politicians?
- This political entitlement to receive special treatment isn’t party specific though.
- However how many common people would miss out a chance to get special treatment themselves?
Does being an elected leader give Thakur, or any politician for that matter the agency to raise unreasonable demand, without putting a thought into how it may affect the well-being of other people around them?
Thakur has alleged that the flight crew did “not behave properly with passengers”. She claimed, “They did not give me the booked seat. I asked them to show the rules. I called the director and lodged a complaint with him.” The airline’s spokesperson has clarified what led to the misunderstanding on their part, “As the BJP MP had come with her own wheelchair and had not booked through the airline, the staff wasn’t aware of this fact that she was a wheelchair passenger.”
Agreed that it is natural to be miffed when such mix-ups happen, but just what was the fault of the passengers flying with her, that Thakur refused to budge for such a long time? One expects leaders to be empathetic and concerned about the well-being of the electorate, or atleast that is the show they must put on in front of others. But in our country, it seems like our leaders do not even bother to pretend that they care.
This isn’t the only time a leader has thrown a tantrum during an air commute. In 2017, TDP MP Diwakar Reddy made a scene at the Visakhapatnam airport when an airline refused to hand him his boarding pass since he had arrived late. The same year Ravindra Gaikwad, Shiv Sena MP from Osmanabad in Maharashtra, was banned from flying by Air India and many other private carriers after he assaulted a 60-year-old Air India staffer for not providing a business class seat, reports Scroll.in. A concise report by India Today from 2012 tells us how leaders use their political power against the security protocol at the airports. According to the article, Congress leader and MP, Moti Lal Vohra was reportedly unhappy with CISF staff when his son and grandson were refrained from entering the check-in area on a visitor’s ticket, while Congress MP Datta Meghe protested to removing his coat for X-ray screening.
Perhaps instant public backlash and resulting outrage over social media would string arm our leaders into keeping their entitlement in check. However, will that lead to a genuine change in approach and behaviour?
These incidences prove that this political entitlement to “special” treatment isn’t a single party problem. Calendars change, elections are fought, won or lost, parties in power change both on state and central level, but a sense of humility evades many elected leaders. Luckily though, social media has made it easy for people to bear witness to the erratic behaviour of those elected to serve them and call it out.
A video doing rounds on social media shows a person confronting Thakur, “You should have that moral compass that even if one person is getting troubled because of you, you should own up because you are the leader. You are not ashamed that you have held 50 people at ransom.”
“Isme first class nahin hai, meri suvidha nahin hai….”
“Aapka right nahin hai first class” “Mera right hai first class”
Pragya Thakur in conversation with a passenger after holding up the flight over seat allocation.pic.twitter.com/89ajV82OLe
— SamSays (@samjawed65) December 23, 2019
Perhaps instant public backlash and resulting outrage over social media would strong arm our leaders into keeping their entitlement in check. However, will that lead to a genuine change in approach and behaviour? What happens when there is no phone camera or press to monitor them? What happens when a politician is absolutely sure that there will be no backlash to what they say or do? Policing, while will bear us results, isn’t a permanent solution. What we need is better people in leadership and regulatory bodies that help keep leaders their attitude in check. But above all the general lust for “special treatment” that plagues us as people is what needs to be questioned. Leaders reflect the electorate and for every incident of a politician trying to abuse their power, there are many more of civilians trying to do the same. Is it fair then, to just call out a Pragya Singh Thakur?
Image Credit: Telegraph India
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.