CHANDIGARH: One of the national newspapers has reported in their paper published today that a national level political leader is ‘miffed’! Now, how can we afford to have ‘miffed’ leaders when they do little even when they are not ‘miffed’? This is obviously a sad turn of events, for, even though the party of this leader had nearly been wiped out in the last general elections, he is not only a national leader but also a Member of Parliament.

If our political leaders get miffed because the government in power now is taking credit for what his/her party had initiated, then it is perhaps not such a great catastrophe. It would have been perfectly in order if the national leader had been miffed because of a national cause or when the nation was being deprived of something of great value. However, that not being the case, we could perhaps sleep in peace, even though the leader in question may be having sleepless nights!

The dictionary meaning of the word ‘miffed’ is ‘put out of humour’; ‘getting offended’; or ‘being in disgust’; all fairly innocuous, so nothing much to be worried about, especially in a country that is usually tolerant! Mind you, being ‘tolerant’ and being ‘intolerant’ have both been in the news lately and gallons of printer’s ink has been expended on the subject in the print media! Much shouting, gesticulations and excitement has also featured in the electronic media on the subject.

Reverting to being ‘miffed’ reminds me how no lesser a person than an Editor-in-Chief of the same paper was so ‘miffed’ with the then Army Chief that he and his ‘gang of four’ front paged a piece on how the Indian Army, with one parachute battalion and one mechanized infantry company was surreptitiously but slowly (on account of old and decrepit tracked and wheeled vehicles) was marching to the capital to stage a coup, but was stopped in its track by a police Naka of one head constable and a few constables!!!

Apparently, the worthy is still so ‘miffed’ with the army that he continues to come out with highly imaginary and negative stories! Maybe, we have to upgrade him from ‘miffed’ to a higher grade like ‘animosity’, ‘wrath’, ‘pique’, ‘umbrage’ or even ‘fury’.

Since I am on the subject of editor-in-chiefs, I might as well mention about one other. A few days back, an association of veterans had organized a lecture by a renowned professor from the United Kingdom on the subject ‘Military and politics in UK’. His exposition was superb, but the editor-in-chief who was presiding over the event was so ‘miffed’ at the Indian Military that he went on and on about how it was the British Indian Army that was chiefly responsible for putting our venerable netas of pre-Independence in jail, forgetting that the army then and the army now only comes to the assistance of the civil administration when it is specifically ordered to do so by the civil administration. He forgot that it was the venerable Indian Civil Service (ICS) of that time and the Imperial Police Service (IPS), which was responsible and the army came in only after the IPS and the ICS had handled or mishandled the situation. This is what happens when you are ‘miffed’ and continue to parrot inanities that have been repudiated time and again. It is another matter that his comments not just ‘miffed’ the entire audience but angered them no end, but being gentlemen all was forgiven after a drink or two!.

Talking about upgrading the word ‘miffed’, perhaps the greatest of our national leaders who is completely ‘miffed’ and has been so since the results of the general elections were announced in 2014 is the Honourable Finance Minister. I had first thought that he was ‘miffed’ because one of his extremely important portfolios (he was initially given the top two by an indulgent Prime Minister), that of Minister of Defence, was taken away from him and that too to bring in a provincial political person from the backwaters of a small state like Goa. However, I was completely wrong, being a thoroughbred apolitical person.

I was later enlightened by persons more knowledgeable than me that the reason for the ‘piqué’ or being ‘miffed’ by the Honourable Minister was much deeper and related to his losing the only election he stood for in his decades long career as a political leader, and that too from a seat that was promised to be the safest in the country. Apparently, the Minister was convinced that he lost because veterans and a few serving personnel of the military did not vote for him. Strange that one of the most important ministers of the present government carries this type of a grudge and that too on the basis of rumours and innuendos, not just against the constituents of his constituency but against the entire military of the nation, serving and retired included. I had always been told that I must not rile women in any way for “hell hath no fury as a woman scorned”, but obviously I had been ill informed!!

Please indulge me for a little longer. About a month back, there were many people, mostly political or their followers, loyalists and henchmen, who had created quite a furore over a historical person who had died over two centuries back. One group wanted to celebrate his centenary or some such hocus pocus, while the other was thoroughly opposed to it. The person in question was one time King of Mysore – Tipu Sultan (20 November 1750 – 4 May 1799), who was suddenly resurrected out of the blue. It was grist for the mill and our media being always looking for sensations lapped it up. I wonder which group was ‘miffed’ or probably both. However, what troubled me was my battalion history, for my battalion was the one that had taken part in the ferocious battle of Seringapatnam, where Tipu Sultan was killed. The battalion was awarded its third battle honour SERINGAPATNAM (MAY 1799) after the campaign. My quandary was obvious. Was I for or against Tipu Sultan and the two factions who were fighting it out only for their nefarious political purposes! Since the entire episode/event was meaningless, I am glad to record that I was not ‘miffed’ in the least!

Let me end this epistle on a somewhat irreverent note. There are two eminent columnists- Bachi Karkaria and Jug Suraya, who write for that venerable newspaper that is better identified as the ‘old lady of Bori Bunder’ or has the word decrepit been added before the word lady now! Anyway, I do hope they like my take on ‘miffed’ as they usually write about the lighter side of life, as I have penned today, but they may well be ‘miffed’ for my stealing their thunder!

(The writer is a former Vice Chief of Army Staff)