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With poll fever catching up, slanderous allegations fly thick and fast as do unparliamentary remarks exposing caste and class biases

As elections draw close, allegations and counter-allegations are being furiously exchanged, interspersed with unparliamentary talk. Unsavoury remarks on PM Modi’s humble origins, Rahul Gandhi’s Dattatreya gotra connections, and others are keeping everyone occupied.

Has the level of political discourse in India fallen beyond redemption? APN’s popular debate Mudda took up the issue. Anchorperson Himanshu Dixit posed questions to panellists including NCP’s Arun Mishra, BJP’s Anand Sahu, RJD’s Manoj Pandey, SP’s Ratan Singh, PSP’s Farhat Raees Khan and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Sahu said: “The quality of language in politics is going down. Now we don’t talk about ayurveda, yoga, science, technology or development. We pass irresponsible remarks that are in extremely poor taste. It’s a sad state of affairs for the youth.”

Mishra said: “Sahu says he went to 35 nations and saw that India’s image has improved greatly. Doesn’t he know that earlier we were known as a developing nation, with education and medicine as our shining sectors? Today we are a country beset by lynch mobs and caste warriors. Now with elections around the corner, they are invoking Lord Rama. Is this the promised development?”

Singh said: “In the last 5-6 years, language in politics has gone down. We always say that the family’s eldest should lead by example. But at the head of the state, the prime minister himself is indulging in such remarks.”

Khan said: “The PM found time to visit each nation in the world, but Ayodhya was never on his itinerary. In UP, women are being subjected to lathicharge, and now they keep saying that a mandir is being made. In UP are they making only mandir and doing nothing else? Gone is the ganga-jamuni culture of the region, and social unity has suffered a deep setback.”

Raju said: “It is a fact that no party actually addresses people’s problems upon coming to power. Politics is now being seen as a lucrative career option, there is no service to the people happening here. Since this is the state of politics, how can you expect anything better? Leaders say that they will waive farmer loans, but where will they get the money from? Nobody is talking about improving farmers’ lives.”

Sahu said: “I would like to know which government has improved the economy so much. Nobody can dare call our honourable prime minister names.’

Singh said: “The national debate is moving away from development.”

Khan said: “Two Gujaratsis are pulling wool over people’s eyes. Amit Shah says Sabarimala is a matter of ‘faith’. He is going against the SC verdict.”

Dixit then pointed out that referring to Shah and Modi as “two Gujaratis” in this context amounted to slighting the community.

Pandey said:”Since BJP came to power, the main issues have been sidelined. People are not getting the support they need. The conversation is only about Ram mandir and Ayodhya now.”

Raju said: “BJP had said that it’s going to come to power and bring in change. But poll-related talk gets nasty. We saw this even in the last general elections. A code of conduct should be imposed now.  Leaders of all parties behave the same way.”

Sahu said: “The Congress is calling PM a thief, just because he has humble origins. The Congress has a pro-rich bias and it is there for all to see.”

Dixit said people should stop encouraging leaders making nasty remarks.

—Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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