Slander is Now Virtue

More vulgar the better!

By Poonam I Kaushish

Rajnetik virodhi ya jaani dushman? Tragically, the lines between a political opponent and a sworn enemy have got blurred. Nothing epitomizes this better than the brazen slanderous ongoing campaigning for the Gujarat Assembly. Which has trashed basic courtesies and decencies, ended camaraderie, bonhomie and respect among healthy rivals. With the devil taking the hindmost!
Everyone and everything has become game in the land of the Mahatma. From desh bhakts to desh drohis. For the Congress, confused about its support base, devoid of a vote plank and desperate about stopping its main opponent, the BJP from returning to power, it fell back to its tried and tested formula — abuse and blatant casteism. For the Saffron Sangh it is a do-or-die battle for its ‘Gujju’ poster boy Prime Minister Modi.
All hell broke loose when Congress ex-MP Mani Shankar Aiyar called the Prime Minister, “Ye aadmi bahut neech kisam ka aadmi hai. Is mein koi sabhyata nahi hai aur aise mauke par is kisam ki gandi rajniti karne ki kya avashyakta hai.” As a counter to Modi’s attack on the Gandhis while inaugurating the Ambedkar International Centre in Delhi.
True, he expressed regret post his public censure and suspension by Rahul who lambasted Aiyar for his tone and language but the damage was done and could cost the Party heavy in the polls. Never mind that Rahul himself had summarily slammed UPA Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2011 describing his Government’s ordinance as “nonsense” and tearing it up.
Retaliated Modi, “He gave this ‘gaali’ to me or you? Did he abuse me or Gujarat? Did he abuse the cultured society of India or me?’ They can call me neech, but I will keep doing oonche work.” Adding, “The Congress leader gave ‘supari’ while on a visit to Pakistan to get me ‘removed’ from the way to ensure peace between India and the neighbour. It is an example of the Congress’ Mughal values that teach to demean castes and talk about upper and lower castes.”
What’s new? Aren’t we accustomed to gutter-sniping, sleazy and vitriolic tu-tu-mein-mein between political opponents and Parties? Of dirty linen being increasingly washed in public serenaded by a frenzied audience’s seetees galore, more vulgar the better, dil maange more!
Today we may hang Aiyar but has the Congress forgotten it showered the choicest of abuse on Modi since the Godhra riots in 2002. Remember Sonia’s intemperate “Maut Ka Saudagar” remark while electioneering in the State 2007 which led to the Party’s defeat. As also, “Yamraj, Ravan, Gandi Nali Ka Keeda, Bhasmasur, Rabies Victim, Gangu Teli etc to describe NaMo.
Importantly, will this stop the mud-raking. “No”. All are tarred by the same brush. Be it the Congress, the BJP or X,Y,Z Party. If the BJP is upset now, it too has to accept its share of the blame. Remember, Modi had described Sonia as “Italian mud will not stick on me. Sonia has a hatred for Hindus. She speaks against Hindus and chooses to remain silent when atrocities are committed against the community.”
Snapped another leader, “Modi is a terrorist…an unchanged lunatic… He is a cynical and criminal challenge to democracy and Gujarat has become a hub of Hindu terrorists.” Or senior BJP leader Advani calling then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “nikamma” in his poll campaign in 2009.
What to speak of VHP’s obnoxious Togadia calling Sonia an “Italian kutti….” DMK’s Karunanidhi mad ravings about Lord Rama being “a drunkard” over the Ram Setu issue. Varun Gandhi’s hate speech against the Muslims. BJP’s late Pramod Mahajan comparing Sonia with Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky resulting in a torrid of abuse by Congressmen against bachelor ex-PM Vajpayee, “Aulaad nahin, damaad hai.”
Of NCP’s Sharad Pawar being described as “so big that he can’t walk properly,” and Samajwadi’s Amar Singh malicious rancour against Congress leaders and vice versa. Of BSP’s Mayawati being called a “prostitute,” by a BJP leader, “when a veshya enters into a contract with a man she sticks to it. But the ex-UP Chief Minister does not follow any binding when selling tickets. If she has sold it for Rs 1 crore and gets another who pays Rs 2 crore, she will give it to him.”
This see-saw battle between the BJP, Congress and others seems to tell us everything, yet nothing about our polity. Indeed, a sad reflection on the depth of political depravation we have come to. Wherein there is no dividing line between statecraft and witchcraft, what is correct and incorrect? Transgressing all limits of political etiquette and public decency.
What is most worrying is that our politicians have perfected the art of cultivating low morality and high greed according to their whims and fancies—and the need of the hour which has been made a lot more malignant by our fragmented politics. Wherein slander, sensation smear and sully are the new political dialogues chanted by one and all Parties with each propounding its own recipe of harmony, according to their own warped and selfish political needs.
A nouvelle vote-catching mantra in the hope that this gutter 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.
Resulting in immorality becoming a way of life, wherein what damn difference does one more slanderous attack make? Undoubtedly, harsh words are part and parcel of politics. Even Westminster, the mother of all Parliamentary discourses is not free from this. One notorious case is that of a leading Labour right Nye Bevan who often crossed swords with Winston Churchill describing the Conservatives as gutter snipes and vermins.
Undeniably, in our present all pervasive decadence, interspersed with growing public distaste, cynicism and despair there comes a moment of truth and reckoning, it is time to pause and ask: Are we putting a premium on slander? On immorality? Will profligacy be the bedrock of India’s democracy? How long do we suffer the stampede for sensation and slander? And, what is in the best interest of India and its democracy?
True, one can argue that all is fair in elections yet we must draw a lakshman rekha specially when it comes to the office of the Prime Minister. Plainly, no leader or Party can abuse the head of the executive body of the nation as he is not anybody but symbolizes the power of the nation and the dignity of his office is paramount for our democracy.
Any slur, slight and disrespect to this institution would deal a body blow to the credibility and authority of the State. We might disagree, criticize, run down policies even demand a change of Prime Minister but none ever desecrates the Prime Minister’s dignity. It’s a strict no no.
The BJP, Congress and Opposition Parties need to heed, put electioneering back on the rails of dignified debate on issues affecting the nation and not personalities. They should remember one age-old truth: If you point one slanderous finger at another, four other slanderous fingers will point back at you! Can a nation be bare and bereft of all sense of shame and morality? And, for how long? —— INFA