Flavour of Election 2009: Hate speech
Across the country, and, indeed, cutting across party lines, politicians are grabbing media headlines by spewing venom; some giving communally charged speeches while others are simply shooting their mouths. And promptly each time their opponents have complained to the EC and filed FIRs.india Updated: Apr 07, 2009 23:03 IST
Bijli, sadak and paani are passé. In Elections 2009, hate speeches are ruling the roost.
Across the country — and, indeed, cutting across party lines — politicians are grabbing media headlines by spewing venom; some giving communally charged speeches while others are simply shooting their mouths. And promptly each time their opponents have complained to the EC and filed FIRs.
The latest such instance was that of both complaint and FIR being lodged against Railway Minister Lalu Prasad on Tuesday, for saying he would have crushed Varun Gandhi under a road roller for his anti Muslim remarks had he been union home minister.
The man who began it all was BJP’s Pilibhit candidate Varun Gandhi, but his example has proved contagious. In early March he allegedly delivered a series of speeches in Pilibhit which included offensive remarks against Muslims.
The virus has spread so much, and so quickly, that the EC on Tuesday warned leaders to be cautious while making speeches.
Hate campaigns, however, are not new in Indian politics. Shiv Sena boss Bal Thackeray was de-franchised for a hate speech he made in 1987. But, Jagdeep Chokar of National Election Watch, a body of 1,200 NGOs monitoring candidates, said people have become more sensitive towards attempts by political leaders to spread hatred to garner votes. And such awareness has resulted in prompt action by the EC.
But the commission still lacks teeth to competitively tackle hate speeches. Unless there is a law vested with the commission enabling it to debar a candidate found guilty of hate speech, said Supreme Court lawyer Rajiv Dhawan, preventing it would be difficult.
The commission was not able to debar Varun from contesting, though it found him guilty of spreading communal hatred. It only issued an advisory to the party to not nominate him from the constituency.