Never since 1969 have we witnessed such vitriol and hatred in public discourse as in the election campaign of 2014 which is only half way through.
Ironically, this politics of spilling venom against the opposition was started by the late Indira Gandhi who wanted to stamp her identity on the oldest party of the country by splitting it ruthlessly. The bank nationalization and the end to privy purses of the erstwhile kings in India were touted as revolutionary decisions by Mrs.Gandhi who won the support of the masses who always get a vicarious pleasure when the privileges of the powerful are taken away.
“If I can’t have it, why should they have it” is the negative socialistic logic that leads to lauding anyone who breaks the established mould. But Mrs.Gandhi had to take these drastic measures to establish her own hegemony on the Congress and if the group of senior leaders like Morarji Desai, branded as the Syndicate, had to be thrown out it did not bother her a bit. Those who have watched the Indian political scene from close quarters for decades will vouch for me that after 1969 the politics of hatred in India became a part of the Indian culture.
Prior to that, pictures of leaders of two warring parties sharing a laugh or having tea together after voting were flashed in newspapers sending the message that apart from political ideology they respected each other’s contribution to the country. But all that changed after Mrs.Gandhi through that split displayed what was later to emerge as her basic dictatorial and uncompromising nature. This came to the fore when she declared an emergency instead of resigning from her post when her election was set aside by the Allahabad High Court. Unfortunately, in this election the Gandhi family itself has become the victim of such vicious attacks from its political rivals- both Kejriwal and Narendra Modi.
With a soft spoken Prime Minister like Manmohan Singh leading the UPA, it was left to Rahul Gandhi to pick up the gauntlet and reply to these barbs and jibes as viciously as they were coming. The social media also turned into an anti-social media, openly abusing the entire Gandhi family and a fumbling Rahul Gandhi was given the nickname ‘Pappu’ embarrassing the numerous Pappus in the country one of the most common nickname in North India.
Halfway through the battle Rahul Gandhi’s body language (folding up his sleeves) and vocabulary has become more aggressive but somehow it does not suit him as well as it suits the street-smart Modi. Even as senior leaders from even the BJP like Sushma Swaraj, Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Jaswant Singh must be cringing, listening to the personal invectives used by their PM nominee the only ones who must be laughing in glee are the puppeteers of the show sitting in Nagpur. The sad part is that the game started by these two has been taken up by the likes of Mulayam Singh Yadav, Beni Prasad Verma, Amit Shah, Mayawati, Uma Bharti, Varun Gandhi, Giriraj Kishore and a man with lakhs of followers known as Swami Ramdev who once fled the Ramlila Ground wearing women’s clothes fearing a lathi-charge.
By Amitabh Srivastava
Image Courtesy: CampusDiaries.com
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