Slapping his thigh in typical Telugu action movie style, Telangana Labour Minister Ch Malla Reddy on Wednesday, August 25, dared Telangana Congress president Revanth Reddy to resign and recontest in the Malkajgiri parliamentary constituency. The challenge was in response to the allegations made by Revanth Reddy, the Malkajgiri MP, against the Minister during the Dalita-Girijana Deeksha held in Muduchintalapalli in Medchal-Malkajgiri district. At the meeting, Revanth accused Malla Reddy, the former MP of Malkajgiri, of being a land grabber while addressing him as a “joker” and “broker.”
Reacting to this, the Minister launched into a tirade, hurling the choicest of abuses against the Congress leader. Besides using many slurs, including casteist ones, the Minister, referring to Revanth’s alleged cowardice, called him a ‘eunuch’. All this was while addressing a live press conference. Earlier this month, another TRS legislator from Malkajgiri, Mynampally Hanumanth Rao also used similar expletives while attacking BJP Telangana president Bandi Sanjay, thereby bringing down the dignity of their office and also lowering the public discourse through their vile verbal attacks.
While Malla Reddy regretted using the casteist slur ‘Pichakuntla’, which is a marginalised caste, and apologised for offending the people of the Pichakuntla community, no apology was offered to eunuchs who too are a marginalised group, living in the fringes of society.
This disturbing trend of public representatives lowering the level of discourse has real-life implications leading to conflicts, says political analyst T Lakshminarayana. “It is extremely unfortunate and saddening that rather than enhancing the level of dialogue, the public representatives who are seen as role models of society are indulging in such vicious attacks, that too publicly.”
“If an elected representative speaks in such a derogatory manner, it only emboldens their supporters to be more vicious in attacking their opponents. It is an approval. And this will inevitably lead to violence. Should a public representative create violence?” Lakshminarayana asks, condemning the actions of both the leaders.
Lakshminarayana adds, “When a public representative says something odd, it becomes a talking point in the media. And the language the representative uses gets normalised, which is dangerous. So, public representatives should exercise caution and not lose their cool in public.”
Condemning the transphobic remarks made by both Malla Reddy and Hanumanth Rao, Meera Sanghamitra, a transwoman and activist, told TNM, “This is not the first time that such transphobic comments have been made by elected representatives, regardless of party affiliations. The first thing when someone tries to politically critique someone, they say, ‘Are you wearing bangles?’ or ‘Are you a eunuch?’ Every time a politician makes such deplorable remarks, it not only reveals their patriarchal mindset but they also degrade a community that is already marginalised.”
“It is not that we have objected to these kinds of derogatory remarks in the past, but since they consider the trans community as dispensable, they don’t show any sensitivity,” Meera adds.