How a harmless peck on cheek turned into free for all to target Siddaramaiah
news Monday, June 27, 2016 - 15:51

Within hours of a woman giving Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah a peck on the cheek during a public programme on Sunday, salaciousness was on full display.

On Sunday, the Karnataka Pradesh Kurubara Sangha had felicitated members of taluk and zilla panchayats. After she was felicitated, Tarikere taluk panchayat member Girija Srinivas posed for a photograph along with Siddaramaiah, and gave him a peck on the cheek before going off the stage.

Speaking to the media later, Girija said that she could not contain her excitement on meeting a man whom she had admired since childhood.

“Since I was a child I’ve admired Siddaramaiah. He was the inspiration for my decision to be a politician. It is a matter of happiness that there is such a lion in Kuruba society. I had always wanted to see him, talk to him, and take a photograph with him. He is like my father and as a daughter, I removed the evil eye and gave him a kiss. I will never forget this moment all my life,” Girija said. Siddaramaiah too said that Girija was like his daughter.

As video clippings of the incident were telecast by the media along with the so-called clarifications of both, the vulgarity began. The kiss was given all kinds of colours, by both the public, and a section of the media.

Many comments on social mediaridiculed Siddaramaiah.

The Facebook user's post reads: 

"Muthu (kiss) mantri Siddaramaiah

sorry

Mukhya (chief) mantri Siddaramaiah

 

 

The Facebook user's comment reads: Who wants a kiss? 

On Twitter too, there was some amount of ridicule directed at the CM.

Media and journalists

In the media, salaciousness varied between outright comments and indirect discomfort with what had happened.

Some television news channels ran tickers which projected the whole incident in a derogatory manner. One channel’s tickers read: “Siddu gets kiss from ‘Kuruba queen’” and “Siddu ‘kiss.. kiss..’ ke baat…”.

An English news channel had this headline: “Oops! Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah gets kissed by woman in public”. However, the story itself was reported in a straightforward manner.

Several news reports qualified the “kiss” with the adjective “sweet” either in the story or in the headline.

One example of sensible reporting was a news website whose headline read: “Woman kisses Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah at public event (Watch Video)”.

A news website gave Siddaramaiah a ‘clean chit’ saying that the woman’s action was certain to unexpected for him. One line in the story read: “It must have been expected for the woman; but for the Chief Minister who was kissed and those nearby, it was unexpected.”

While this was what made  it to the public domain, among journalists too, there were different types of discussion, ranging between genuine debates on how to report such an incident, if at all, and disgusting comments.

Referring to the tone of discussion among journalists in another WhatsApp group, one journalist in commented: “At least in this group the discussion has ended here. The discussions in other groups are disgusting. The comments suggest that we may see journalists being garlanded with chappals in our own lifetimes.” 

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