In the melee of the Aam Aadmi Party victory in New Delhi on Tuesday, its leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted a picture of his wife and him hugging. “Thank you Sunita for always being there,” he said. In the age of Twitter and Facebook, we have become accustomed to public declarations of love and gratitude, and so this may appear par for the course. But in the world of Indian politics, this tweeted picture – tantamount to PDA – was almost certainly a first.

Even film stars-turned-politicians do not hug their wives in public. Most politicians’ spouses are invisible, unless they stand in for husbands who are in jail or are otherwise unable to fight an election themselves. Then there are the abandoned political wives, not even referred to when their progeny enter politics. In some cases, as with a previous prime minister, there is no public acknowledgement of a partner of a lifetime.

Which is why this picture of Delhi’s new chief minister-in-waiting and his wife, a working civil servant, is refreshing. It shows what regular folk do when they are happy. They hug the person they love. This is normal. Abnormal is imprisoning an unloved spouse in a web of state-funded high security and desperately hugging powerful strangers you have just met.

Right to express love

There is a figure standing just behind the Kejriwals in the picture who is clearly saying “Aawww”, which is a cloying but acceptable reaction to PDA. It is a huge improvement on: hai, hai, have you no shame, imagine doing this in front of your parents (they will think you have become westernised and abandoned the ancient Indian art of immaculate conception), or hai, hai, what if your children see you (two people who love each other touching is not part of our culture, in our culture we touch strangers who don’t want to be touched.).

But sadly one politician hugging his wife does not a love revolution make. Also, we do not know yet what the AAP thinks about people’s right to love and express their love. And we still have to contend with anti-love jihadists who threaten huggers (and potential huggers) with marriage (checking caste and gotra first, of course) and then exhorting them to having four, six or ten children.

We can only hope a politician who happily hugs his wife and tweets the picture will empathise with Delhi’s lovers, married, unmarried, gay or straight, and his government will support them against draconian laws, anti-love jihadis and the police.