Slander Is Now Virtue
By Poonam I Kaushish
Rajnetik virodhi ya jaani dushman? Tragically, the lines between a political opponent and sworn enemy are blurred, epitomized by brazen slander during recent campaigning for Gujarat and Himachal Assemblies which trashed basic courtesies and decencies, ended camaraderie, bonhomie and respect among healthy rivals. Underscoring, slander, sensation, smear, sully and smirch are the new political dialogues and flavour of the season. With the devil taking the hindmost!
Everyone and everything was game in Mahatma land. From desh bhakts to desh drohis. For the Congress, confused about its support base, devoid of vote plank and desperate to stop bête-noir BJP from returning to power, it fell back to tried and tested formula — abuse. For Saffron Sangh it’s a do-or-die battle for ‘Gujju’ poster boy Prime Minister Modi to ensure it continues its 24 years rule since 1995.
All hell broke loose when Congress President Kharge said, “Modi ji is PM… He keeps campaigning in corporation elections, MLA elections, MP elections, everywhere… All the time he’s talking about himself – ‘You don’t have to see anyone else, just look at Modi and vote’… Is Modi going to come and work at the municipality? Is he going to help you in times of your needs. How many times do we see your face? How many forms do you have? Do you have 100 heads like Ravan?”
Evoking a sharp reaction from BJP, which accused Kharge of “insulting Gujarat’s son. From ‘Maut ka Saudagar’ to ‘Ravan’, Congress continues to insult Gujarat.” Referring to Sonia Gandhi’s comment during 2007 Gujarat election attacking Chief Minister Modi for the 2002 communal violence in the State.
Countered Kharge, “Modiji claims to be poor. How is this possible when he has served as Chief Minister for over 13 years and PM for 8 years? Imagine the plight of dalits and tribals? I’m one of the untouchables. People drank your tea, nobody would’ve had my tea…How many times will you lie? He’s the leader of lies.”
Ripping him for the audacious bare-all below-the-belt attack, responded Modi, “He says he will show Modi his ‘aukat’, I am a common man let him show me my aukat. They hurl 2.5-3 kg abuses everyday…Modi will die dog’s death, Modi will die Hitler’s death. Another said, if I get a chance, I’ll kill Modi myself…Someone says rakshash, someone says cockroach… there is a competition who is most abusive and uses most toxic slurs… Congress means corruption and selfish politics.”
Evoking sharp rejoinder, “You give 4 quintals of gaalis everyday, without which you are unable to digest food.” Snapped another, “Modi is a terrorist…an unchanged lunatic…He is cynical and criminal challenge to democracy…Gujarat is hub of Hindu terrorists.” It doesn’t stop there. A defamation case is pending in Bombay High Court for Rahul Gandhi’s “commander-in-thief remark over the 2018 Rafale fighter jet deal.
Reminiscent of Congress ex-MP Mani Shankar Aiyar calling PM, “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.”
Look at Trinamool’s Mamata who averred two years ago, “When Modi comes to Bengal and says 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 your Party leaders who stole people’s money in 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.
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 post-poll alliance between 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”. BJP retorts, “Pawar is so big he can’t walk properly,” and Mayawati is a “prostitute,”
What’s new? Aren’t we accustomed to gutter-sniping and vitriolic tu-tu-mein-mein between political opponents and Parties? Isn’t it part and parcel of political discourse. Of dirty linen being increasingly washed in public serenaded by frenzied audiences seetees galore, more vulgar the better, dil maange more!
Importantly, will this mud-raking stop? “No”. All are tarred by same brush: Congress, BJP or X,Y,Z Party. If BJP is upset now, it too has to accept its blame share. Remember, Modi had described Sonia as “Italian mud will not stick on me. Sonia has hatred for Hindus. She speaks against Hindus and chooses to remain silent when atrocities are committed against the community.” Or senior BJP leader Advani calling ex-PM Manmohan Singh “nikamma” in 2009.
Alas, none want to address critical questions: Why are politicians’ discourses becoming more and more venomous and noxious? 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 winds! Gone are the days when jibes and trolls were funny, sarcastic and netas took them in their strides.
Accentuating bankruptcy that is manifest in our system wherein leaders have perfected the art of cultivating low morality and high greed 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 diatribe one thing emerges crystal clear: political skullduggery indulged in mirrors the harsh and horrendous reality of our polity. Where there is no dividing line between what is correct and incorrect. 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. Consequently, the idea of democracy has been vitiated.
Clearly, it is time our politicians realize profligacy, immorality cannot be the bedrock of democracy. Our polity needs to tone down divisive and personal attacks, engage each other on issues affecting people and nation, not personalities to put electioneering back on rails of dignified debate adopting zero-tolerance stand on offensive language.
The aim: raise bar on public discourse because if you point one slanderous finger at another, four other slanderous fingers will point back at you! How long will we suffer the stampede for sensation and slur? Can a nation be bare and bereft of all sense of shame and morality? — INFA