The Lok Sabha elections are in the final lap and the torrent of vitriol flows unchecked in the name of electioneering.
As campaigning for the seventh phase ended on Monday, bare-knuckle fight for votes intensified. BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi yet again took on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, hit back at union minister Farooq Abdullah while coming under heavy fire from both the leaders as well as West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee.
The discourse is getting bitter, personal and shriller by the day but no one seems to care.
Rahul vs Modi
Mocking Rahul Gandhi, Narendra Modi dubbed the Congress vice-president namuna (which loosely translates to clown/joker) for his “little knowledge” about Gujarat. Addressing a rally in Kheralu in Gujarat, Modi said Gandhi’s claim of vast job vacancies and lokayukta smacked of ignorance, and were short on facts. His speeches were good stress-busters, Modi said. “Rahulbhai, if you don’t have that much knowledge, what would happen to India?” he said.
In distant Bathinda, Gandhi hit back with force, questioning Modi’s ties with Adani Group and the BJP leader lampooning his visits to Dalit houses. Gandhi said after handing over land worth thousands of crores of rupees to an industrialist, the state government claims that Gujarat is shining.
He also asked whether it was wrong to ask Dalits about their problems and wrong to meet or hug them. “Kya main koi galti kar raha hun (Am I doing something wrong)? he asked audience in the reserve constituency of Faridkot.
Modi vs Abdullahs
A day after Farooq Abdullah said Kashmir won’t be part of a “communal India” and those voting for Modi should drown in sea, the Gujarat CM said the biggest blow to secularism in India was delivered in Kashmir by the Abdullah family when Kashmiri Pandits were forced out due to their religion.
He accused the Union minister, his CM son Omar Abdullah and his father Sheikh Abdullah of communalising Kashmir for political gains.Omar took on Gujarat CM, accusing him of twisting history. The CM challenged Modi to visit Kashmir and ask for votes. “He wanted a debate on Article 370 but chickened out, with BJP saying I was not his league," Omar said.
Farooq picked from where he left on Sunday. Addressing a poll rally in central Kashmir, he said Modi wanted to erode Kashmiri identity and make “Kashmiris his slaves’’ by proposing to abrogate Article 370 that gave Kashmir special status.
Mamata vs Modi
Unleashing a vicious attack on Modi after he questioned the “big money” fetched by her paintings, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee labelled her Gujarat counterpart “devil and a blood thirsty rioter”. The country would be “ruined” if he comes to power and the “architect” of Gujarat riots would drench Bengal in an “ocean of blood”, she said in Kolkata.
Her Trinamool Congress demanded a public apology from Modi for doubting the integrity of Banerjee. On Modi’s allegation she was indulging in vote-bank politics ignoring non-Bengalis and laying the red carpet for Bangladeshis, Banerjee said he did not know history.
“He is polarising Bengalis and non-Bengalis. After shedding blood in Gujarat, does he want to unleash bloodbath in Bengal...” she said.
Video vs video
The Congress responded to the BJP’s video on Robert Vadra with one of its own. The video, and photographs, showed Modi in company of a Surat-based diamond trader being probed in a hawala case.
Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed the Enforcement Directorate had unearthed Rs. 700 crore hawala racket linked to the businessman Afroz Phatta just last month and demanded an “independent probe”. “What is the nature of relationship of Modi with the alleged hawala kingpin?” Surjewala asked. Minutes later, Modi’s aide Amit Shah re-tweeted a picture of Phatta and Congress MP Mohammad Azharuddin but curiously deleted his tweet soon after.
(With agency inputs)