The slugfest started with haramzadon in December, gathered pace through a splattering of dharnebaaz, upadravi, chor and bazaru before hitting the mat with bhagoda.
Delhi’s short but acrimonious poll campaign was littered with vocabulary that under normal circumstances would have carried a parental guidance disclaimer.
Union minister of state Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti set the tone for this crass course on political jargon aimed at knocking opponents down — language and lineage notwithstanding.
“Apko tay karna hai ki Dilli mein sarkar Ramzadon ki banegi ya haramzadon ki (You have to decide if the next government in Delhi will be formed by the progenies of Ram or illegitimate children),” said the saffron-clad, bhajan-singing minister at a rally in west Delhi.
Nirmala Sitharaman, another member of the Narendra Modi ministry, called Arvind Kejriwal a chor (thief), prompting an AAP riposte that she made the remark because she was born into that political culture.
The BJP took personal attacks to a new low when it audaciously called the entire Baniya or trading community upadravi or trouble-maker at an advertisement aimed at spiting AAP chief Kejriwal.
“BJP has come down to casteist attacks. BJP should apologise to Agarwal community,” tweeted Kejriwal who is a Baniya.
Prime Minister Modi too was party to the nasty contest of barbs. He called Kejriwal bazaru, which can be loosely interpreted as a person who can be bought and sold. It was an oblique reference to the controversy over donations to the AAP from suspected shell companies involved in money laundering.
By any yardstick, bazaru was far too abusive than the AK-49 he had coined to mock at Kejriwal’s number of days as Delhi chief minister before the May Lok Sabha polls.
To cap it all, Kejriwal’s rival-in-chief Kiran Bedi kept harping on the bhagoda or deserter millstone he had earned for quitting in 49 days.
The Congress too joined the name-calling game. The party’s print ads called Modi a pracharak (publicist) and Kejriwal a dharnebaaz (a habitual protester).
Analysts said the new lexicon reflected the unpleasant change in poll rhetoric.
“Earlier, good governance was a part of political discourse. What’s happening now is probably a backlash of what AAP started. They started calling everybody a chor and a blackmaketeer,” said Neera Chandoke, former head of Delhi University’s political science department.
The drift sharply contradicted the kind of politics Atal Bihari Vajpayee followed.
In August 2003, Vajpayee was furious over Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s description of the BJP-led government, calling it “incompetent, insensitive, irresponsible and brazenly corrupt”.
“Main dang reh gaya … matbhedon ko prakat karne ka yeh tareeka hai? Sabhya tareeke se lariye. Desh ki maryadayon ka dhyan rakhiye (I was shocked...Is this the way to express differences? Fight in a civilised manner. Keep in mind the country’s honour),” he said in the Lok Sabha.