The electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh, which has 80 parliamentary constituencies — the most among states in India — has turned increasingly vicious, with high-pitched, vitriolic words and even expletives being hurled by rival politicians against each other.
Sample this political lingo: Bhedia (wolf), gunda no.1 (hooligan number 1), rakshas (demon), shaitaan (devil).
A worker cleans a cut-out of Rahul Gandhi, beside cut-outs of Akhilesh Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Rajnath Singh and Narendra Modi as they are put on display for sale in Ghaziabad. (Reuters Photo)
It doesn’t end there.
The scathing attack also includes badle ki aag (fire of revenge), maut ka saudagar (merchant of death), boti-boti kar doonga (cut into pieces), khooni panja (blood stained hand), and insaaniyat ka qatil (killer of humanity).
It is obvious that it is not just Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Amit Shah or the Samajwadi Party’s (SP’s) foot-in-mouth minister Azam Khan who are leading the hate brigade in the state.
A cursory look at the political statements and speeches of leaders in the recent past throws up enough instances where unparliamentary language has been used against political opponents.
In Kairana, a senior SP minister recently used objectionable language against Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati and went on to invite the Dalit leader to “come and sit in his lap” for a “lifetime lesson”.
The BSP’s candidate from Moradabad, Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, who has a slew of model code of conduct violation cases against himself, has been spewing venom and seeking revenge from “qatils and shaitans” (murderers, devils).
The language of many contestants in the Lok Sabha polls is equally acerbic.
Recently in western UP, several candidates used terms like atanki (terrorist), and khooni haath (blood stained hands).
Former Allahabad high court judge Haider Abbas Raza says the Election Commission should not only take note, but also crack down on people spreading such hatred through their speeches.
According to Raza, the EC “is vested with all powers to stop all this and even the courts would not interfere in such matters”.
Other than Amit Shah and Azam Khan are Union steel minister Beni Prasad Verma and many ministers in the Akhilesh Yadav government.
Verma, who is a Congress candidate from Gonda, is known for his acidic tongue and has called BJP prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi gunda No.1 (hooligan number one).
Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Uttar Pradesh, Umesh Sinha, says the poll panel has taken serious view of the recent statements by politicians during campaigning and would act from time to time as per law.
Old timers rue the latest bout of hate speeches.
Sharad Mishra, 85, recounts how vote seeking used to be “fairly decent” in the past.
“This type of uncouth language is very depressing,” he sighs, adding: “I looked forward to voting this time as I might not be around in the next one but the whole scene seems so vitiated.”
Rajendra Chowdhary, SP state spokesman and prisons minister, calls the embargo by the EC on Azam Khan’s rallies “unfortunate and surprising”.
Chowdhary, however, has no answer to the poll panel’s indictment of the state government for not acting against Azam Khan’s inflammatory speeches.
Laxmikant Vajpayee, BJP state president, also terms EC’s restraining order on Amit Shah unfortunate.
SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav too sparked a row when he said at a rally in Moradabad that the rapists do not deserve to be sent to gallows. He has come in for widespread criticism for his statement that “boys make mistakes”.
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