Who is the fairest of them all? The BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Damodardas Modi of Gujarat or those who are not friends – read: fiercest enemies — of Modi?
It seems none. Although political divides always get sharper during elections, the war of abuses is so intense and so early this time that both the camps sound a little stunned after each punch — before responding with a befitting jab. And it hardly matters who drew first blood.
The last time opponents were attacked viciously was during the 1989 Lok Sabha polls, when the Congress released a series of adverts, under the slogan, ‘My Heart Beats for India!’ It suggested through disturbing drawings what horrors the country would face if the opposition comes to power.
But that time, they were symbols to scare the voter, asking: “Will India survive a coalition government?” There was an opposition outcry, and the campaign went down as one that did not help then PM Rajiv Gandhi stave off a challenge from VP Singh.
This season, however, the flavour is to identify the opponents with scorpions, rats and other inhabitants of the animal world and bloodied paws – a more direct approach maybe.
A day ago, in the first of its reprimands, the Election Commission conveyed its “displeasure” to Rahul Gandhi for accusing the BJP of engineering riots in his October 23 remarks.
In the same breath, the EC also sent a notice to Modi for his November 7 “appeal” to Chhattisgarh voters to be wary of the “khooni panje” (bloodied paws/hands) and “jalim haathon” (cruel hands).
As the lone voice of sanity, PM Manmohan Singh criticised Modi last week for using “bad” language against political rivals. The BJP’s response: “The Congress leaders breached all barriers of decent politics” and “suddenly realise the need for civility in discourse”.
But Singh’s reprove was followed up by his own partymen and allies with vicious punches at Modi -- below the belt. The Congress ministers are livid over Modi’s frequent reference to Rahul Gandhi as Shahzada (prince) and equating Indian Mujahideen with the CBI.
Modi’s men quickly compiled a list of snipes, ranging from Sonia Gandhi’s description of him as ‘maut ka saudagar’ during the Gujarat polls in 2007 to Digvijay Singh’s epithet of Ravan for Modi’s 3D holographic presence in the 2012 state polls. While putting out these details on deshgujarat.com, they did not forget to include Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, who had compared Modi with a ‘monkey infected with rabies’ during the 2012 polls.
They also listed Congress MP Hussai Dalwai’s address in the last polls wherein he referred to him as a “mouse compared to Sardar Patel” and Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar calling Modi a “snake, scorpion, dirty man” in March this year.
If that was not enough, everyone took resort to old faithful Adolf Hitler and his propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar called Modi a fascist — “those who believe in fascisim are Hilter-like and will do what Hitler did, spreading false propaganda.”
Not to be pushed aside, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said, “Manufacture a lie and then broadcast the lie. This is what Goebbels used to do during World War II and this is what the Congress party is engaged in.”
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