Unfair Election Practices !

R.D. Bhardwaj “Noorpuri”

During Mahabharata, when it became quite certain that there is no solution in sight to declare a suitable / more eligible successor between Yudhishthra (eldest amongst Pandu brothers) and Duryodhana (the eldest of Kaurava Princes) to the throne of Hastinapur, after the blind King Dhritarashtra, and as all negotiation channels had failed to bring a consensus, it was then decided that let the battle between Kauravas and Padavas decide the matter. The senior members of the clan and big warriors of the both the sides then sat together along with Lord Krishna and formed a clear cut set of rules to be adhered to during the battle, so that even during the war time, only fair and logical practices are adopted . And thus, both the sides bound themselves to honour the traditional set of rules like – the combat shall be between the equals only – the horsemen shall attack horsemen only, elephant troops shall fight with elephant troops only and the soldiers on foot shall attack the soldiers on foot only, and those left exhausted or injured in the battle field shall not be attacked / killed by others and also that you cannot engage with another warrior who is already engaged with another warrior in the battle field, and that no arrow shall be aimed at flag-carriers, conch shell blowers or drum-beaters etc.. The purpose of all these war rules was that even though it is a battle being fought between two sets of opposing cousins for the succession to the throne, but it must be fought with dignity, respect, quite fairness, logically and that no unfair, bad and mean or cheap practices are put to use to kill your opponents. Moreover, this battle was a big act of Dharmayuddha, which prohibited the use of wrong/unfair means to win over.

No doubt, initially both the sides respected the sanctity of those rules and that the Kurukshetra battle is fought in a civilised manner – like the battle shall be fought only between sun-rise and sun-set, no warrior shall attack a soldier of the opponent army in case he lays down his arms, or he surrendered before the other warrior; but as the battle progressed and gained momentum and big warriors of both sides started getting killed or eliminated from the battle field, the rules formed previously also started becoming redundant and crumbling down (on the 13th day of battle when Abhimanyu entered the Chankravyu formed by Dronacharya) as it is said in an English proverb – “everything is fair in love and war”, because only guiding factor which remained in mind was to win the battle and kill your opponent by any means, – the rules like fair or foul, moral or immoral, religious or dastardly acts, all became practically irrelevant.

Similarly, when the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha were announce by the Chief Election Commission of India on the 5th March, 2014, the ECoI also declared a set of rules under which all the parties desirous of contesting elections or independent candidates also, should religiously follow those democratic set of rules and principles etc. But, election is an election after all, particularly in these days, when politics has assumed much bigger ramifications and is nowadays, it is regarded as a big business entity rather than just a sort of social service (which was being taken in that manner till the regime of former Prime Minister, late Mrs. Indira Gandhi). Now, apart from enjoying supremacy of political power, huge funds running into thousand crores of money are at stake, to be spent by these politicians in the name of development, providing social, civil and economic facilities to the public, and that is why these days hardly any politician cares for – as to what is fair or foul, rational or irrational, democratic or autocratic etc., the only guiding factor in fighting the elections is now to see and ensure – how to win the election, by the virtue or vice of money and muscle power. Now the power of print and electronic media are also extensively manipulated in a big manner to influence the voters in a much bigger and faster manner, so as to ensure tilt the voters’ mind to your maximum political advantage. Not only that, the language which should normally be used to express your views to put across your candidature, plans to formulate his or her policies for his electorates / constituency etc., is also getting from bad to worse day by day, totally unbecoming of the law-makers.

This is how our so called leaders who are going to sit in the Parliament House to make laws for the people, have starting behaving as if they are not contesting elections, but their whole life is at stake in the electoral arena, as if they don’t kill their opponents, your opponent is most likely to kill you. They don’t even care that their speeches are being recorded and shall be shown on the news channels shortly after the election rally, but shall also be printed in the news-papers next day morning.

Thus, many leaders have forgotten their appropriation of their language and they are openly using foul and unfair language while campaigning. Thus, the Samajwadi Party supremo, Mulayam Singh Yadav while making a commentary on the judgement made by the Bombay High Court in rape case, commented, “Ladkon se aisi galtiyan ho jaati hai, iske liye kya unko aap phansi dogo?” Not only that, one more big leaders of his party, Azam Khan also spoke in a very derogatory and divisive language more than once during his election speeches. Apart from that, he has also tried to divide the country’s army by saying that – “The Kargil war in 1998 was won by the Muslim soldiers only ……..”

Not only SP leaders, some leaders from Congress are also unable to make use of the refined language at public place. See for instant, commenting on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, Imran Masood, the Congress candidate from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur seat, said in a threatening tone, “If he dares to come here, Modi will be chopped into pieces……..” But it is good to note that Rahul Gandhi advised all congress leaders to attack the policies and programmes of their opponents and not attack their personal life. Many other leaders like Lalu Prasad Yadav, Digvijaya Singh, Mani Shankar Aiyar have all attacked on Modi in an improper language, which should not be used at public forums.

The politicians or their supporters are not showing any restraint while expressing themselves or criticising their opponents and frequently making a good use of unsavoury language which is very bad for the children as their speeches are also shown on the news channels. They are crossing all limits while levelling charges against each other during the election campaign.

As some of the otherwise very influential people who are not contesting elections, but are strong supporters of some political party or the other, are also campaigning for their respective parties to change the mind of their followers. As such, Swami Ramdev, who is staunch supporter of BJP, also made a very irresponsible statement using foul language while talking about Rahul Gandhi’s approach; he made the remark in Lucknow on April 25 which has drawn flak from all quarters since then. He said, “Had he (Rahul) married a Dalit girl, who knows, he might have become the PM. Sonia says first become the PM and then bring a foreigner as bride. He goes to the Dalit houses to have picnics and honeymoon.”

It is really very sad and ironic to note that a person who is otherwise leading the life of a saint and has always avoided the institution of marriage, matrimony related rituals and their sanctity, should stoop so low and express his views in such a filthy language, totally unworthy of him and also, contrary to the respect and dignity of the Dalits. The National Commission for the Schedules Castes and Scheduled Tribes should take desired action against him under the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for “insulting” the entire Dalit community through his controversial “honeymoon” remark against the Congress vice-president, Rahul Gandhi. But, it is also quite intriguing as to why all Gandhis are keeping mum on these derogatory remarks of Swami Ramdev.

It is not that only second rung leaders of political parties are only making use of such unsavoury language. When big leaders like Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the Chairperson of UPA, has many a time commented upon Narinder Modi in an inappropriate language, by calling him “Maut Ka Saudagar or Merchant of Death and Destruction.”

It should be noted that the use of bad language is not limited to one party or one leader only; rather there are some leaders in all parties who are prone to making use of that type of language. For example, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also faced an embarrassing situation when Rajeev Laxman while campaigning for the AAP candidate from RK Puram assembly constituency, in November, 2013, Shazia Ilmi, allegedly used foul language against the Union Home Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde at a public meeting. The incident became glaring in the light of the fact that AAP claimed of promoting clean politics. The matter was sorted out later when Arvind Kejriwal tendered an unconditional apology for that. He also said, “AAP does not encourage use of any unparliamentary language by its leaders or members or supporters. AAP said it is against the use of any foul language by its members or supporters.

Whatever be his drawbacks in governance, I would like to appreciate the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh that he never uses unsavoury language. Thus, while addressing an election rally in Raipur, Chhattisgarh in November, 2013, he emphasised that even while criticising our opponents, he will not resort to cheap politics. “We will criticize the opposition and yet not use inappropriate words for them. We will not go below our dignity.”

But, we cannot say this thing about Narinder Modi that he exercises restraint while making his speeches. On the other hand, it is sometimes found that while addressing political rally occasionally he bids farewell to logic / facts and he twists the subject, as his mastery ofdemagoguery takes over. A demagogue is a person who, in an endeavour to win over the people and their support, talks by appealing to their emotions rather than using reasonable arguments. When he talks, he leaves aside the real issue or question and sometimes, the other person gets lost in bamboozlement. When the Aam Admi Party chief, Arvind Kejriwal, announced that he would contest against Modi from Varanasi, BJP leader, Narinder Modi turned angry and described Kejriwal as AK 49, an agent of Pakistan and an enemy of India. He also insinuated against the Defence Minister. He said: “Three AKs have emerged as a unique strength for Pakistan. One is the AK 47 (rifle) which has been used to spill blood in Kashmir; the second is Defence Minister AK Antony and third is AK 49. However, Kejriwal was quick to respond, but in a dignified manner, when he said, “Kya PM ke daawedar ko aisi bhasha use karna shobha deta hai? Modi ji muddon ki baat kyon nahi karte?”

It is not that he spoke in such a derogatory language about Kejriwal, AK Anthony etc., he also responded by using foul language against Bihar Chief Minister, Nitish Kumar. While reacting to his remarks, Anthony said, “This is not proper.” Antony also criticised his statement. Had this speech been delivered by a man without knowledge of history or an image, it would have impressed. But coming from Modi it is really nauseating. One fails to make out where he intends to take politics.

While talking about the mal-practices and bad behaviour in electioneering, I would also like to point out that many leaders of AAP, have been inflicted with disrespect and insulting behaviour at public meetings, particularly at the provocation by their political opponents. Thus, ink has been thrown on the faces of Artvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodiya and Ashutosh Gupta as well, to disgrace them publicly. One person also got quite near to Arvind Kejriwal in the guise of garlanding him, and thereafter, slapped him 2/3 times. This is indeed very bad and shameful sign for the biggest democracy of the world.

Modi ji also used similar words for Nitish Kumar. While addressing a rally in Gaya. He said:“Desh ke vikas ke liya Bihar ki tarakki jaroori hai aur Bihar ki tarakki tabhi tej hogi jab yahan se Grahan hatega (Bihar’s development was imperative for growth of the country. This can only be achieved when ‘eclipse’ hovering over it is removed.)” His speech sounded more like a warning from the Godfather. Strange – how could a leader aspiring to rule over India use such derogatory language against the Chief Minister of a State?

Reacting to his foul commentary on Nitish Kumar, the Union Minister, Anand Sharma made an observation like this : “He is a demagogue with vile vision. I don’t consider he reads. We do not consider he is even wakeful of what is his function in a country. He is not famous for his grasp of economics and finally he has confirmed ….. he has no vision. He has no tellurian vision, no grasp of geo-strategic issues.”

In this backdrop, the outburst of NCP chief, Sharad Pawar against Modi, he too targetted and described him as dangerous for the country. He even suggested that Modi needs to be “Treated in a mental hospital for talking rubbish”. He said: “Modi is talking about a Congress-Mukt Bharat. Whether Modi knows the sacrifices and contribution of the Congress in the freedom struggle? Because of the Congress’ ideology, we got freedom.”

Little doubt Modi has “deep character flaws”, P. Chidambaram recently said: “He (Modi) cannot resist such derogatory remarks and perverse characterisation I am ashamed that such a person aspires to be the PM and the party (BJP) that doesn’t point out these flaws to him.” He also pointed towards instances of “perverse characterisation” by Modi, including of a former Chief Election Commissioner by calling him “James Michael Lyngdoh” in election meetings apparently referring to his religion.

The RJD supremo, Lalu Prasad Yadav also recently compared BJP’s prime ministerial nominee, Narinder Modi with a butcher, saying that even he feels shy of the Gujarat Chief Minister. “Kasai bhi sharmata hai Narendra Modi se (Even a butcher feels shy with Modi),” he said talking to the reporters.

And lastly, I would like to say that our leaders of all political parties should exercise restraint and dignity of language while criticising their opponents, particularly when they are speaking at public places and before live cameras. They should remain aware of the fact that their speeches are recorded live and shall be shown on news channels / print media as well and in case they make use of such bad, foul, unparliamentariy language. Apart from bringing a bad name to them and their parties, their speeches also bring disgrace to the face of our democratic system and thereby, bring a bad name to our country as well. They should also remain vigilant that sometimes their words are also listened by the children and they are also most likely to pick-up some bad words spoken by them and thus, spoil their use of a good and refined / decent language.

These are views of writer & Dwarka Parichay is not responsible these views.