In a long-distance race, the last lap is always the most important one. It is here that athletes make their last-ditch attempt to secure a podium finish. In elections too, the situation is similar: In the last week before campaigning ends, candidates and senior leaders address back-to-back rallies and make all efforts to stay in the media limelight as well as in the hearts and minds of the voters.
Chief election commissioner VS Sampath announces the dates for the Lok Sabha polls in New Delhi. (AP photo)
But unlike in athletics, many a time their endeavour to stay ahead in the political race only brings a bad name to the democratic process that we are so proud of. Last week, Saharanpur Congress candidate Imran Masood left the nation stunned and angered with his disgusting “would chop Modi into pieces” remark.
Just when the nation was recovering from the shock, another leader from western Uttar Pradesh, Nahid Hassan from the Samajwadi Party, made vile remarks against BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and BSP chief Mayawati, pushing the level of discourse to a new low. While the former has been jailed, proceedings have been started against the latter. But the damage has been done.
However, don’t blame these two-bit leaders: They have been shown the way by their senior political colleagues. In this season of free-for-all, leaders have called each other everything from napunsak (impotent) (remark made by Salman Khurshid against Modi) to Tarka (a mythological female demon in Ramayana) (remark made by Ramdev against Sonia Gandhi) to cockroaches and even Pakistani agents. NCP boss Sharad Pawar on Monday added his bit to the list: He said that “Modi needs to be treated in a mental hospital” for his various unsubstantiated comments.
By attacking opponents in such an uncharitable manner, our politicians are flouting the Election Commission’s Model Code of Conduct (MCC). In fact, the first two points on the MCC are on the lakshman rekha that candidates should not breach. It says: No party or candidate shall indulge in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic; and criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work.
Many of the leaders in private defend such actions saying that such comments "sell" well in particular constituencies and that the nuances are lost in translation. This is utter rubbish: There is no place for such discourse in public life and it only shows that they have no command over issues and facts and figures. Besides, they should also know that people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.