POWER & SEX
Columns, In Black & White

POWER & SEX

May 11, 2024

Even as Prajwal’s sex scandal is still in the news, allegations of molestation are coming in against West Bengal Governor C.V. Ananda Bose. Politically motivated or not, sex and power have always gone hand in hand.

Men in power control their environment. Powerful men set the agenda of nations. But for some reason, many of them just can’t seem to hold on to their zippers. The cocktail of power and libido is lethal specially to women in lower stations in life, the ones who generally have no voice, like housemaids.

Prajwal’s alleged abuse of maids and subordinates reminds one of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former Chief of the International Monetary Fund, the all-powerful body that holds the financial strings of many nations.

Strauss-Kahn was audacious to assume his designation was enough for the hotel cleaning lady to appreciate and receive his stimulus package. Well, he knows better now — it’s better to distribute financial stimulus packages rather than physical ones.

 The other powerful man who couldn’t keep his pants up in the presence of his maid was the famous actor of the ‘Terminator’ movie franchise and politician, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The ‘sperminator’ apparently had a child with his housemaid Mildred Patricia.

 It was reported that he had a nickname — ‘Octopus’ because before you knew it, his hands would be crawling all over you. But what is this fascination with maids? 

In a survey, they found men in general fantasise most about nurses, maids and air hostesses, in that order. Actually, one may notice most women who are harassed are in this service industry.

 Maybe it stems from the fact that most of the services these women render such as caring, cleaning and feeding are generally performed by or, are expected of a wife. So does a desperate, frustrated and testosterone-packed man assume that sexual favour is the next obvious service?

 This is the same attitude seen in ‘wife rapists’.  Where husbands assume that their wives must be of sexual service by the mere virtue of being a wife.

 There is attraction and plain primitive carnal craving and Homo sapiens should be able to know the difference; else they become mere sexual predators.

In India too we have had powerful men who have taken and continue to take risks in pursuit of liberating their libido or the ‘romantic’ in them.

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To start with, our very own ‘Chacha’ Nehru was a romantic; so romantic in fact that once when he landed in London late at night, he went straight to Edwina Mountbatten’s house.

The next day, photographs appeared in the London Press with Edwina Mountbatten opening the door for Nehru well past midnight wearing a negligee along with the caption ‘Lady Mountbatten’s midnight visitor.’

 Apart from Nehru Chacha’s London Aunty, he supposedly had affairs with a few Indian Chachis… one was a Sanyasin!

 Khushwant Singh, in his book ‘Gods and Godmen in India’, writes of the interview he had with Sanyasin Shraddha Mata where she talks of Nehru thus: “I could see Panditji was attracted to me. He was impressed with what I had to say. And I do not deny that he was attracted towards this (pointing to her face and features). I met him many times and for many hours at a stretch. I sensed his growing attachment to me. He asked me many times about my marriage and my husband. I can say that had I been free and not taken the vows of a sanyasin, it would have been me and not any of the other women whose names have been linked with him (Lady Mountbatten, Padmaja Naidu, Mrinalini Sarabhai) that he would have wanted to marry. But it never came to it.”

 But in politics like in war, the fair sex is used as an instrument. In fact, Outlook magazine, in a story about Nehru’s affair with Shraddha Mata, wrote about how she was actually a mere political instrument in the hands of Hindu Mahasabha.

 The report states that Mahasabha Chief Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, aware of Nehru’s susceptibility to attractive young women, tried to get the Prime Minister to meet her.

Though Nehru refused initially, he later gave her a 15-minute private audience, which stretched to an hour and a half. And later many more such private audiences followed, usually late into the night.

According to Outlook, the Intelligence Bureau intercepted a letter written by Mahasabha’s Ashutosh Lahiri boasting about Shraddha’s ‘active contact’ with Nehru and saying that this ‘new contact’ may bring in new developments. This letter was forwarded to Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel, who in turn forwarded it to Nehru, asking him for an explanation.

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Nehru replied the same day nonchalantly, “…it is perfectly true that the lady in question has met me several times in Delhi and Lucknow. We usually discussed two subjects — the Hindu Code Bill and the question of language, that is, Hindi. She tried to influence me in regard to these two matters and I tried to influence her the other way. I don’t know what success I’ve had, but she had none, so far as I am concerned.”

The Indian political scene has seen many such romances from MGR and Jayalalithaa to Kumaraswamy and Radhika. It has also seen libido on overdrive with the likes of Renukacharya and Jayalakshmi. And finally, the crude and perverse kind in the case of late N.D. Tiwari and now Prajwal Revanna. But what makes powerful men so prone to sex and abuse?

It is said that politicians fit a personality type known as ‘sensation seekers.’ They crave intense experiences more than other people. It is also said that people who reach positions of power are overtly driven, lonely and restless, hence indulging in risky behaviour.

This may not be completely true; some are just perverts and sexual predators who enter professions that give them easy access to prey. The best example: Men of God. Religion has been a hunting ground for perverts for a very long time now, unfortunately culling them out has been a challenge in every religion.

 So, what is it that makes powerful men more prone to sexual perversion and adultery than ordinary citizens? Probably the best explanation has come from the only man who turned the office of the US President, the ‘Oval Office’ into ‘Oral’ Office, the former US President Bill Clinton. He said: “I did something for the worst possible reason — just because I could.”

 Yes, powerful people do it just because they can and more importantly because they think they can get away with it. Will Prajwal Revanna get away? Worse, will the person who leaked the unblurred video get away? Hope not.

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