Rajnetik virodhi ya jaani dushman? A question that niggles as the narrative hits a new low with highly vitriolic and acerbic mud-slinging down to gutter-sniping slug-fest between the BJP, Congress and regional Parties over the last few weeks. Which underscores that slander, sleaze, sensation, smear, sully and smirch are the new political dialogues.Serenaded by frenzied audiences’ seetees galore. More vulgar the better, dil maange more!
Certainly, the audacious bare-all below-the-belt attack by Modi on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi might not seem behoving of him as one does not speak ill of the dead. Said he: “Rajiv Gandhi may have been declared Mr Clean by his courtiers but he died as “Bhrashtachari No.1. I challenge Congress to fight the polls in his name.” Adding, “Rajiv used the Indian Navy’s premier warship INS Virat as his personal taxi for a family holiday along-with his Italian in-laws and friends and did it with great swag.”
Needless to say, it had the Congress frothing and led Rajiv’s progenies to lash out. Beti Priyanka, compared Modi with Mahabharata character ahankari Duryodhana and said, ego and arrogance are two things that are common to both….I have not seen a more coward and weaker Prime Minister”, while beta Rahul dubbed him a rioter and grandiosely responded with a hug. Even as NaMo justified it by asserting “For over a month you have been giving me, my mother and family galis, we have the ability to pay back in the same coin”.
True, one can fault Modi for his harsh language, innuendoes, call it too blunt for the political palate and even dismiss it as being brash. Some might shrug it off as part and parcel of political discourse. But the fact is that he alone is not to blame as his intemperate language is no different from what other netas have perfected down the years.
Look at Trinamool’s Mamata who averred, “When Modi comes to Bengal and says that I am a top extortionist, I wish to give him one tight slap of democracy.” If this was not bad enough she went a step further, “he is a liar …. A person drenched in blood….I will ask him to do 100 sit-ups if corruption charges against my Party are proven wrong.” Countered NaMo, “I advise Didi give a tight slap to some of your Party leaders who stole people’s money in the chit fund scam.”
The barbs got uglier when Modi talked about ‘Trinamool’s Tolabaazi (organized extortion racket) Tax’ enforced by Bhua Mamata and her bhatija. Shot back Didi, “Woh ek badtameez nalayak beta hai who does not care for his mother and wife.” Worse, was RJD’s Rabri Devi who called Modi “A jallad (executioner) with a ‘khoonkhar maansikta” (vicious mindset). Sic.
It got more rancid as days went by. A Congress Minister called Modi a “Gandi naali ka keeda aur Ganguteli,” another leader, “Woh ek paagal kutta hai aur Bhasmasur hai…. rabies bimari se peedit bandar hai, rajnitik Dawood Ibrahim hai.” From Hitler, chooha, lahu purush, asatya ka saudagar, Raavan, saanp, bichoo, ganda aadmi zeher bone vaala” The BJP got a shot at countering this when Rahul’s Guru Sam Pitroda flippantly dismissed the 1984 Sikh genocide as “hua toh hua,” by accusing the Party as khooni.
More. Titillating voters has become common whereby anything and everything is game. For the BJP, “Muslims can be identified by removing their clothes (reference to circumcision) to Samajwadi’s “Jaya Prada wears a khaki (RSS colour) underwear,” and insinuation linking Modi and Mayawati’s single status to a post-poll alliance between the BJP and BSP. “Woh teen baar Modi ki godh mein bathe chukeyi hai” while NCP’s Pawar dubs Modi as “deranged who needs treatment in a mental hospital”.
Alas, none want to address critical questions: Why are politicians’ discourses becoming more and more venomous and toxic? Can such language and conduct be condoned? In Delhi the BJP stands accused of calling AAP’s Kejriwal “a dog” and its woman candidate “a prostitute” alongside casteist slurs.
Frankly, I am neither surprised as our netagan are only showing their girgit true colours throwing all public decency and decorum to the winds! Gone are the days when jibes and trolls were funny or sarcastic and netas took them in their strides.
Today, the lines between an opponent and an enemy have got blurred wherein trash talk and brazen innuendoes seem to be the flavour of the season. Dumping basic courtesies and decencies all take venomous delight in reveling in their baser characteristics swaying to the heady tinkle of cheap thrills and seetees. Wherein gutter-sniping, sordid and spiteful tu-tu-mein-mein between opponents and Parties is the order of the day. Of dirty linen being washed in public, more vulgar the better.
Thereby, underscoring the bankruptcy that is manifest in our system wherein netas have perfected the art of cultivating low morality and high greed according to their whims and fancies made more malignant by our fragmented politics. Resulting in immorality becoming a way of life, what damn difference does one more slanderous attack make?
Sadly, through this entire diatribe one thing emerges crystal clear: the political skullduggery indulged in mirrors the harsh and horrendous reality of our polity. Where there is no dividing line between statecraft and witchcraft, what is correct and incorrect. Never before has politics denigrated to the sewer level as it has today.
In this slugfest of personal insults and character assassinations against rivals along-with a euphemism “I am right,” the BJP vs rest tu-tu-mein-mein is a harsh reflection on the depth of political depravation we have come to. A nouvelle vote-catching mantra in the hope that this cesspit sniping would bring them tripti— and power. None cares a damn for decency and decorum except for scoring brownie points against each other. Ends matter not the means and winning is the name of the game.
Consequently, thanks to our polity’s wind-bagging the very idea of democracy has been vitiated. Add to it the peoples’ distaste for vulgarity, gender insensitivity, sexist thinking and speeches spewing hatred.
What next? Clearly, it is time that our politicians realize that they are putting a premium on insult. How long will they allow profligacy be the bedrock of India’s democracy? Undeniably, our leaders need to tone down divisive and personal attacks, engage each other on issues affecting the people and nation and not personalities, put electioneering back on the rails of dignified debate and adopt a zero-tolerance stand on offensive language.
The aim should be to raise the bar on public discourse, not lower it any more than has been done. And those who reduce the level of discourse to such depths only do so at the cost of exposing their lack of civility to the electorate and the nation at large.
Our leaders should remember one age-old truth: If you point one slanderous finger at another, four other slanderous fingers will point back at you! How long do we suffer the stampede for sensation and slur? Can a nation be bare and bereft of all sense of shame and morality? —- INFA