With the first phase, out of the seven-phase polling to be held this week to constitute the 17th Lok Sabha, the political discourse, especially during the election speeches by all political parties are not only heated, but abusive.
The trend in developing by each passing day and new un-parliamentary phrases are being coined to address public rallies by all political parties. The guardian of the elections, Election Commission apart from giving notices cannot help stop this trend as political parties are belligerent and are not accommodating any advice on control of language during election campaigns.
It is not only in election rallies do we witness such language. The social media language is un-printable and there is virtually no control over it. Lately, Facebook and Twitter have taken this hate language into account and have started suspending accounts which are been found to spread such abusive language. Political parties too, have their social media “army” which creates and works round the clock to salvo choicest of languages to their opponents with an intention to make it viral. In such a war, one can only fight in this mud-slinging match or avoid by being an onlooker.
In the past five years, one has become inured to such abusive language. One has heard it in Bengali and Bhojpuri, Tamil and Telugu, Kannada and Konkani, and come to associate it with the everyday press briefings of the political parties. Recently, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had spelled out a number of “abusive” terms such as ‘Chowkidar Chor hai’ (watchman is a thief), ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ (merchant of death) and ‘Neech’ (lowly), that various Congress leaders had used in their speeches to attack Modi. It was former Congress President Sonia Gandhi who had called the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi a ‘Maut Ka Saudagar’ (for 2002 Gujarat riots) while another party leader Mani Shankar Aiyer dubbed him lowly and advised him to open a tea shop. Since then, the match is on and it has reached its pinnacle in the upcoming general elections. The senior BJP leader and the Law Minister of India also referred to the coinage of ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ by Congress president Rahul Gandhi which he used to take a dig at the Modi government over the hurried implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST).
The BJP on the other hand, has also used terms like `anti-national’, `scamsters’, `dynasty’, ‘chor’, etc for Congress and other political parties. In 2017 outraged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘raincoat’ remark on Manmohan Singh, Congress MPs had staged a walkout from the Rajya Sabha. Their protest may have been a bit of an overreaction but the truth is that the jibe was in extremely poor taste. What drove Modi to make such an allegation? Modi was desperate to strike back as in the previous session in 2017 Manmohan Singh had spoken like the economist he is, and delivered a rare, brief and relatively strong speech condemning demonetisation – a speech in which he used terms like “organised loot” and “plunder”. Manmohan Singh’s diction was not abusive or frivolous but it had stung Modi.
Debates are now being held in virtually all leading national television channels in the country on the recent deluge of abusive election campaigns. All such debates too get highly polarised and end up in cacophony. Spokespersons of various political parties are seen on live television defending their leader’s utterances and ultimately taking the discourse of the television debates to a new low and inaudible in the din of mud-slinging match across the table. The trend is growing and it would not be too far when we will see a fist fighting among the guests invited for a debate on live television.