Election language in Jharkhand has hit a new low with politicians making derogatory remarks and commenting on their rivals’ personal lives, as development issues take a backseat during the five-phase assembly polls in the backward state.
From foreign origin to family, politicians have spared no areas to humiliate rivals. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) raised what it calls dynastic politics in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), JMM leaders hit back strongly, targeting the prime minister’s personal life.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to voters to get rid of the “baap-beta sarkar (father-son rule)” during his rallies. Chief minister Hemant Soren was quick to retort. “It is not my problem that Modi doesn’t have a son,” he said at a rally in Mandu on Wednesday.
Soren did not stop there, calling BJP president Amit Shah an “agent of industrialists”.
“Shah is like a mosquito that has sucked more blood than required. His chubbiness shows how much he can digest,” he said.
Shah and BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain also targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, cracking jokes at the poor response to his rallies.
“Rahul Baba cannot see development under the Modi government as he wears Italian glasses,” Shah said at a rally in Gomia on Monday.
Development issues do not seem to feature on any party’s radar.
“They (BJP) don’t have any development issues to talk about, as they haven’t done anything for the state during their rule, so they started passing personal remarks in their rallies,” JMM national general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya said, adding the JMM only replied to their attacks.
Jharkhand has seen nine chief ministers and has been under President’s Rule three times since its formation in 2000 and the BJP has been a part of the government for nine years.
The BJP defended its comments, saying they were directed at governance issues.
“When we say baap-beta or ma-beta rule, we refer to the poor work they have done during their reign. However, comments on our leader’s marital life, appearance and potency are nowhere related to politics and shouldn’t be discussed,” said BJP spokesperson Pradeep Sinha.
Other parties have also traded low blows, with Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav taking on Modi’s home state over the black money issue. “More than 50% of the black money in India belongs to people of Gujarat,” he said at a news conference in a Ranchi hotel.