India ties 'mangalsutra' to political mud-slinging as phase 2 spices up Lok Sabha polls' potpourri

Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 06:23 IST
Last Updated : 27 April 2024, 06:23 IST

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Hello and good morning, dear readers! A very warm (read scorching) welcome to the weekly edition of DH's Political Theatre, where we attempt to showcase the latest theatrics from the world of Indian politics! And boy, the stalwart thespians (oops! we mean politicians) of our country did not disappoint at all, given the magnitude of the occasion this week!

The election season is heating up, perhaps as much as the weather, with 2 phases of the Lok Sabha elections done and dusted. The lead up to episode 2 of this 7-part mega series was thoroughly action-packed to say the least - jabs, counter punches, referee interventions, and high-drama - we saw it all! But who will win the ultimate battle and who will get knocked out in the end? We'll have the answer on June 4, but till then, enjoy all the tidbits from this week.

Two down, five more to go

The festival of democracy is taking shape with the second phase of the 18th Lok Sabha elections being held on April 26 in as many as 88 constituencies covering 13 states. As per the latest figures, a voter turnout of at least 61 per cent was recorded across the country.

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As per the Election Commission's Voter Turnout App, Tripura recorded the highest voting percentage at 78.97 per cent while Maharashtra recorded the lowest at 54.58 per cent.

The build-up to to phase 2 was absolutely riveting to say the least. Let's take you through the key happenings of this week in a nutshell.

The curious case of the missing model code of conduct

Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent shockwaves across the nation after being accused of delivering a "hate speech" while addressing a crowd as part of his election rally in Banswara, Rajasthan, on Sunday, April 21. Launching a scathing attack on Congress, he said that the opposition party would redistribute the wealth of the people to "infiltrators", “those who have more children" and "Muslims".

Unsurprisingly, this attracted a lot of flak from opposition leaders, who demanded a stern action against such candidates creating disharmony among people from the Election Commission of India.

Such accusations against a sitting Prime Minister is something that was certain to grab a lot of eyeballs.

The Election Commission finally intervened, albeit after days of silence.

Better late than never

After facing backlash from the opposition for its silence, the Election Commission issued a notice to BJP president J P Nadda seeking a response on the complaints against PM Modi's alleged "hate speech" in Rajasthan.

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The EC also dished out a separate notice to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge for his response to Modi's speech. The notice has also put Congress MP Rahul Gandhi under the scanner over charges of delivering speeches that create "linguistic and cultural" divide, in a move which some are deeming to be a balancing act.

However, as you might already have guessed, this was only just the beginning of the not-so-rare exchange of jibes that was about to ensue between BJP and Congress.

Bound by the 'mangalsutra'

BJP's election rally may have changed venues from Rajasthan on Sunday to Uttar Pradesh on Monday, but PM Modi's target remained the same. During his speech in Aligarh, Modi alleged that if in power, the Congress will snatch away properties possessed by the common people, including "mangalsutras" (a sacred golden thread worn by married women as a symbol of immortality of their husband) and distribute it among others.

Modi's 'mangalsutra' rhetoric did not go down very well with Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, who retorted back with similar intensity. While at a poll rally in Bengaluru, Gandhi hit back at Modi claiming that it was her mother (Sonia Gandhi) who sacrificed her 'mangalsutra' for the country, alluding to the assassination of her father Rajiv Gandhi.

The many ways to woo voters

Both Kharge and Modi went out of their ways to woo voters this week. While the Congress president resorted to an emotional speech where he asked people to attend his funeral to remember the work done by him even if they do not vote for his party.

On the other hand, Modi used cricket and Lord Krishna as his trump cards in Uttar Pradesh's Amroha.

Targeting former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the Prime Minister said that the former had "insulted" Lord Krishna recently during his (Modi) visit to Dwarka in Gujarat.

''I had worshiped Lord Krishna by going under the sea at Dwarka but the shehzada (Rahul) of Congress said that there was nothing under the sea to worship,'' Modi said.

Furthermore, he added, ''Our government conferred the Arjuna Award on him (Shami)..... the state government is also constructing a stadium here (Amroha)''.

Pitroda's Uncle Sam parallel and the inheritance tax saga

Indian Overseas Congress chairperson Sam Pitroda stirred a lot of debate with his comments on inheritance tax. During an interview with ANI, Pitroda praised the inheritance tax law present in the United States, which, he said, does not exist in India. Referring to the significance of the law, Pitroda said, "When we talk about redistributing wealth, we are talking about new policies and new programs that are in the interest of the people and not in the interest of super-rich only".

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While this drew a lot of criticism from the BJP, Pitroda's own party—Congress—distanced itself from the comments.

Alluding to Sam Pitroda's inheritance tax comments, Narendra Modi hit out at Congress once again while addressing a poll rally in Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh. The Congress party want to impose inheritance tax in the country and snatch the assets and rights of people and their children, he alleged.

Scoring early

After the rejection of Congress's Surat candidate Nilesh Kumbhani on grounds of discrepancies in the signature of proposers, BJP candidate Mukesh Dalal was elected unopposed from Surat Lok Sabha constituency in Gujarat.

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Talk about being impatient to open your account!

A murder, and a bigger plot

The brutal murder of 23-year-old Neha Hiremath inside the campus of BVB College (KLE Technological University) in Hubballi is playing foil to the political battle between BJP and Congress in Karnataka, with the BJP trying to strengthen its "appeasement politics" allegations against the Congress.

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No meat in PM's words?

Congress General Secretary (Organisation) K C Venugopal minced no words while speaking about PM Narendra Modi's references to consuming mutton and non-vegetarian food in his poll rally speeches. "Why is he talking about mutton? Is he saying all BJP people are vegetarians and all Congressmen are non-vegetarians? What one should eat is a personal choice. Nobody can dictate it", he said while speaking to DH's Shemin Joy.

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Last but definitely not the least, the Supreme Court had its final say on the long-ensuing EVM-VVPAT saga.

Case closed

In its last hearing on April 26 (Friday), the apex court rejected a plea for 100 per cent cross verification of VVPAT counts with EVMs or returning to ballot papers during the elections, while also commenting that blindly distrusting the system would lead to unwarranted scepticism.

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Around the world in 80 words

Anti-Israel protests are gaining steam in the US, with some universities cracking down heavily upon students. The Columbia University president is under fire for one such clampdown, However, US State Secretary Antony Blinken did say such protests are hallmark of American democracy.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden lifted a page out of Donald Trump's book when he called the latter a 'loser'.

Kristi Noem, a Trump VP contender, has come under fire for defending shooting a dog at her farm.

That was all for this week, folks! See you all next week!

Exit Stage Left,

DH Newsletters Team

Published 27 April 2024, 06:23 IST

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