The Age of Sycophancy


I was amused to read the following news report this morning’-  Maharashtra govt red-faced after Padma awardee’s power supply cut.’

 Padma Shri awardee and noted Marathi poet, N D Mahanor,  was attending the Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan in Pune. On March 26, he criticised politicians in his speech at the literary conference.

The very next day,  an engineer and five wiremen of the distribution utility arrived at his house, removed the lock on the gate, and despite his servant pleading that no one was in the house, snapped the electricity connection and went away with the meter.

 MahaVitaran, the electricity distribution company, says that he had not cleared dues of Rs 23,500.

 Mahanor says,  “I have no pending dues, if my dues are pending, let them show it.”

After Leader of the opposition, Eknath Khadse, raised the matter on Tuesday, Maharashtra energy minister, Ajit Pawar, tendered an apology in the Assembly.

The concerned officials now say that they ‘have paid the dues on his behalf’ and electricity will be restored.

 Was this an overzealous attempt by the MahaVitaran officials to please their political bosses?


Even if it was, we can hardly blame them, because this sort of behaviour is seen at the very highest levels, in the bureaucracy and in the government, too.

The controversy over Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan, accepting the role of Brand Ambassador for the State of Gujarat has been raging for some time now. The Congress leadership was miffed, due to personal as well as political reasons. Therefore the Bachchans became untouchables for their party.

Congress party workers were so enraged on behalf of their leaders at the presence of Amitabh Bachchan at the  inauguration of the extension of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, that they called for Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan’s resignation.

Subsequently,  afraid of making the same mistake again, the Maharashtra CM altered his official schedule, and  went one day earlier to the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan at Pune, so as not to share the stage with Amitabh Bachchan at the valedictory function, for which they had both been invited.

Congressmen are not willing to take the slightest chance of displeasing the Royal Family, it seems,-  and have extended the unofficial ‘ban’ to the entire Bachchan family. Bachchan Junior ‘was blacked out’  at Earth Hour on Saturday, supposedly at the behest of Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit.

This kind of sycophancy has always been present in Indian politics, but it seems to have reached new heights currently. Only time can tell just how high these ‘Royalty -pleasers’ are willing to go.


I am reminded of the story about how  the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, met his end.

It was the year 1170 A.D. and there was conflict between King Henry II of England and the Archbishop, over the rights and privileges of the Church.

” Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”King Henry roared. 

Some versions of this story tell us that the King did not say this explicitly, but did make his displeasure with Becket known to his knights.

The King’s lament was treated as a royal command, and Becket was subsequently murdered by four knights of the King.



  1. Prannoy Roy tweeted that what Cong were doing with AB was to please Madamji, but she is not aware of the going ons.( upto you to believe him or not, I dont)
    Congress has lived sycophancy all these years and the leadership always has said that they desist sycophancy.
    Whatever is the case of AB ,no one in his right senses can treat a person of his stature the way Congress did .He was invited by congress and had not gate crashed.
    Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari has used some of the worst language in this on going episode which made the situation worst.For once, the biased media channels too disapproved of this spokesperson’s language.
    Why did Chavan cut short his visit to Pune?
    The point is,why is congress doing this?
    It is a miserable case of shameless sycophancy.
    What is their worry?
    We may just have a long extended episode on this subject for some more time to come.


    1. I agree, Manish Tiwari has used abominable language in his statements- probably he was finding it difficult to defend his party!

      Yes, probably this issue will continue for some time….


  2. Royalty pleasing attitude is worsening day by day, Manju. The worst is Mahanor’s case. Feel sorry for him. Height of the joke is ‘The concerned officials now say that they ‘have paid the dues on his behalf’ and electricity will be restored.’! Dirty politics.

    I wonder if the party head knows what is going on at their back, all party heads!

    Thomas Becket incident is very apt for this post!


    1. Yes, what happened to N D Mahanor is sad, but amusing, too. The authorities thought that they would please Congress party leaders, but the energy minister had to apologise in the assembly!


  3. Such a sad state of affairs in our country. AB Sr has done no wrong in being the brand ambassador of Gujarat. All the uproar is by those who wish to find fault with Modi. The length people go to, to please ‘Madam’ is pitiable. Sycophancy is nothing new.


    1. I agree, Modi’s opponents are attacking him indirectly through their opposition to Bachchan. This is likely to backfire on them, though!


  4. There is almost a tradition of sycophancy in the Congress. It was honed to a fine art during late Mrs Gandhi’s regime, with metaphoric declarations in Parliament by Baruah then, rounding up of say, rickshawallahs of Delhi by some faithful, to applaud and declare their support for some new policy, by shouting slogans outside her house, and making a noticeable noise. Today, it had reached amazing depths where sometimes elected and other officials even pick up the leader’s footware. Maharashtra government is going slow on funds to be allocated and given to senior citizens , and has been pulled up by the courts. Water pipes are cracking suspiciously regularly across Mumbai, at the beginning of summer, and all that the CM is worried about is what happens if he smiles at A. Bachchan on the Sea Link, or Sahitya Sammelan. Theoretically , the Sea Link is built from our taxes. Bachchan pays bulk taxes. He , and any other person can come sit on the SeaLink. Then this N D Mahanor thing.

    The sad part is, other political parties are now learning this art of sycophancy too.


    1. Yes, sycophancy was at its peak during the emergency days! Sadly, it looks as if India is returning to that state again.

      As you say, the CM has to spend his energy on staying in the Congress high-command’s good books- where can he find time to govern his state?


  5. Power corrupts. Absolute power absolutely ! Over time, this has meant to be mainstream life. Where some elite folks enjoy power for a fixed term !

    We need to get the right to recall our elected representatives. If corporates can fire underperforming employees, dont we have the right to ‘fire’ people who we have elected !

    Paid on behalf ! Sigh. What a shame.


  6. You’re right- we need to have the right to recall our representatives.

    Once they are elected, they do not represent the common Indian. They represent their party leaders!


  7. We may never get to recall these politicians, but wonder when they shall recall the Padmashree awards! It is a sad affair indeed..

    as for AB, wish people would leave him out of politics, but then he himself was close to the Gandhi family, the Amar family etc. etc. so I guess this was all waiting to happen.


    1. HK, it is a bit hard on Amitabh Bachchan. He seems to have been singled out for criticism by the Congress. Industrialists like Ratan Tata are not criticised for prefering Gujarat.


  8. The hand that blesses can also slap!…very vindictive I must say.
    This is just like the police man in UP who took some boys to the station to get into Mayawati’s good books. The boys he said had applied holi colours on Mayawati’s poster!!!!


    1. Yes, the behaviour of the Congress leaders is very vindictive- just to please Madam!

      You’re right- the U P policemen in the incident you have mentioned seem to have been acting in a similar manner.


  9. Such a sorry state of affairs…

    India has no future, if politicians continue their sycophancy, and we people encourage them to do so. This exaggerated sweet language and buttering will do us no good. Either we continue our leaders to do so, or we stop this menace.

    Dishonesty and manipulation is in the veins of some of our people. And these very people, are unfortunately ruling our country.

    Very insightful post! I am compelled to share this at my blog’s Facebook Community!


    1. Parth- welcome here!

      Yes, this is a sorry state of affairs. And the ‘common man’ allows this to go on- sometimes out of helplesness, sometimes because he gets some personal benefit from the situation, himself!


  10. You said it Manju! Royalty is exactly what the dynasty feels it is because we as Indians have put them on a pedestal.
    So what madam says is patthar ki lakeer.
    Forget what madam says even. We will do something on our own to please madam. Yes . We will!

    And then a Mahanor happens. A CM sneaks to a meet a day early so as not to offend ‘madam’.
    Party workers feel ‘offended’ as a whole by the presence of the one they think has offended madam.
    Herd mentality I tell you! Disgusting in the extreme!

    But such is the farce called Indian democracy.
    Moreover, a weak opposition is not helping matters. The dynasty is getting stronger in the absence of any credible opposition.

    That is a gruesome end for the poor Archbishop.


    1. You have summarized the situation very nicely, Abhi!

      This type of behaviour will persist as long as people feel that they will benefit by fawning on political leaders.


  11. We are going back to the dynasty rule… but the wonder part is we are still in democracy…

    its happening from the centre to state… as said by Rahul Gandhi once.. its getting really difficult for people to enter politics who don’t have a political background..

    and his case is a classic one…


  12. I guess, sycophancy cannot survive without its being rewarded. Moreover, if having an independed voice & opinion is punished, obviously those lower down in the hierarchy would find servility a good option.

    In Pune electricity board case, I’m suprised why no one is considering the possibility that some minister would have ordered the employees to do so! If that’s the case, then it would hardly be called sycophancy!

    Congress has a tradition of rewarding servile people. Imagine, hardly anyone in their current cabinet is a mass leader! It’s unbelievable how Rahul’s automatically become the crown prince, & Jyotiraditya Scindia & Sachin Pilot who had if not equal, comparable family clout, are wallowing in the prince’s shadow!


    1. Ketan- welcome here!

      I suppose it is possible that a minister ordered the MahaVitaran employees to cut the electricity supply to Mahanor’s house. Unfortunately, there is seldom any follow-up to these stories in the newspapers- I would love to know what the ‘real deal’ was!


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