Deteriorating discourse

Words must fail as week by week the language of electoral discourse sinks deeper into the gutter.

None can escape admonition, but the BJP-parivar’s grammar of arrogance and hatred is particularly manifest and disturbing.

Last week a senior BJP candidate, Giriraj Singh, said that the place of Narendra Modi’s critics, whom he identified with those indulging in cow slaughter, is in Pakistan.

Not to be outdone, Pravin Togadia, the firebrand VHP president, told a Bhavnagar audience to forcibly prevent Muslims from buying or occupying houses in Hindu-dominated areas on account of their food and cultural habits.

In other words, he was calling for ghettoisation of Muslims beyond barricaded ‘frontiers’ as has happened in Ahmedabad since 2002 but which Narendra Modi, that far sighted statesman, by the BJP’s telling, is unable to see.

A Shiv Sena leader, Ramdas Kadam, addressing a joint BJP-Sena rally in Mumbai alongside Modi declared that once in power, the latter would teach Muslims, whom he termed traitors, a lesson.

Modi soon after disapproved these ‘petty statements’ but a day later in Jamnagar, reacted strongly to Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s offensive against him.

He said they had “crossed all limits” and even insulted Sardar Patel. And then: “Twenty days remain….. I am going to take revenge”.

He was probably peeved at the Gandhis’ — now Priyanka included — referring to the holes in his Gujarat development model, especially in terms of human indices, the alleged favours shown to Adani, and his treatment of women as exemplified by his abandonment and disowning of his wife and the ‘snoopgate’ surveillance of a married lady architect even beyond the State’s jurisdiction and by no less than the Anti-Terror squad, allegedly for her ‘protection’ at her father’s request as against a very different version based on taped conversations of Modi with the lady that have not been denied.

The BJP’s ally, Baba Ramdev has just spoken most insultingly of dalits. At the same time on Ambedkar Day a fortnight back, Modi spoke of the alleged slight to Ambedkar’s legacy by the Congress.

The UPA, he alleged, favoured reservations and subsidies for Muslims and Christians at the cost of these benefits that were really intended for dalits and tribals thus prioritising these two minorities over the latter.

How divisive can one get? And can one for ever explain away such doublespeak and hate talk as ‘petty matters?’

The whole Hindutva anti-conversion drive is based on its exponents’ inability and unwillingness to fight the terrible inequities and oppression of caste divides.

The brotherhood of the Hindutva crowd and the Taliban is a tragedy of our times. Both still live by standards of medieval barbarism.

Arun Jaitley and Meenakshi Lekhi have been the two most vocal BJP spokespersons on Modi’s marriage that was not a marriage but only a child marriage that none has a right to speak about as such discussions are taboo.

Both lawyers need an elementary lesson in law.

Their threat to reveal or speak about the illicit relationships of Congress icons if Modi is asked about his wife is a non sequitur and is a scarcely veiled threat of blackmail.

A person’s illicit relationship with another may be immoral but not illegal. But not responding to validly-required information in a document like a passport, insurance policy or electoral nomination form is a violation of due process.

The election nomination form requires a prospective candidate to declare his or her marital status.

It is not only the BJP that goes haywire.

The Principal of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai was clearly wrong and far from being purely academic in advising his students through the college website on the very eve of the poll that they should vote “wisely” – against Modi.

And, typically, the Congress defended this misdemeanour. Vadra too has yet to explain himself.

Meanwhile, the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board wrote to Delhi’s Lt. Governor about the “impropriety” of making registration of marriages compulsory in the Capital, with a fine for default.

The AIMPLB’s case is that registration is already being done by Imams, Wakf Boards and religious trusts.

Bogus demands

Maybe. But what objection can there be on grounds of interference in personal law in having a uniform national marriage (and death) register.

This is arrogant nonsense and such bogus demands must be summarily dismissed.

Private registrations are known to be irregular, incomplete, and sometime fraudulent and purchasable. There must be an end to religious humbug.

The Election Commission says it has so far confirmed 198 cases of ‘paid news.’ Candidate who acknowledge guilt will be asked to add the amounts paid to their electoral expense returns.

This is but water off a duck’s back. More appropriately, the EC should act in concert with the Press Council and Broadcast Regulatory Authority to disqualify the candidate from contesting elections or holding any public office for 10 years and barring the Party from contesting that seat for six years.

Equally, the registration of the indicted newspaper or channel for a period of time and debarring the correspondent from accreditation for 10 years should be mandated.

Only such condign punishment will cure our democracy of such dangerous ills.

Finally, one must condemn in the strongest terms the crude effort of V K Singh, the BJP candidate from Ghaziabad, who disgraced himself and his uniform as former army chief, to delay the appointment of the next army chief until after the poll results are in.

He has levelled the most scurrilous charges against the army commander next in line by seniority and has politicised the issue in a most brazen manner implying that whoever is appointed will be beholden not to his oath but to his ‘benefactor.’

Chamchagiri is not the tradition of the proud Indian Army but may be Singh’s personal code of conduct.

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