View: How rally-mouths reduce political discourse to the lowest possible level
There is some solace to be taken from the fact that the Election Commission (EC) suspended Azam Khan and Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for three and two days respectively.
Or, the more pleasant shock of finding Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman visiting the injured Thiruvananthapuram MP in hospital — and the latter tweeting a picture and comment about how he was ‘touched by the gesture’.
But far more generally, you can always depend on our political ‘leaders’ (sic) to reduce our political discourse to the lowest possible level. The benchmark for which, this time, has probably been set by BJP MP from Pilibhit, Uttar Pradesh, and Union minister Maneka Gandhi, at a rally in Sultanpur’s Turab Khani village, where she informed her constituents that any Muslim voter who did not vote for her could forget about receiving her help in the future.
If that wasn’t enough, at another rally in Pilibhit a few days later, Gandhi chose to share her plan for a vote share-based distribution structure for developmental work in villages. She described an ‘ABCD’ categorisation based on which development work for villages would be continued. Those villages where BJP received 80% votes, they would fall under Category A; 60% votes, Category B; and so on.
Yet, just as we were getting our panties in a twist over Gandhi’s ultimatum to voters, Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan took a break from tending to his bulls to splatter a little bull manure our way in the guise of political discourse. Speaking at a rally in Rampur, UP, Khan said, ‘Someone that I mentored personally and introduced to Rampur, someone who led you as a leader for 10 years, someone who you took 17 years to identify correctly, I recognised in just 17 days that even the underwear worn by the person is khaki-coloured.’
Jaya Prada, who is contesting against him on a BJP ticket from Rampur was not mentioned by name. But the rally crowd didn’t have to be a Subramanian Swamy to figure out with the descriptors provided by Khan, whom he was referring to. It’s important to mention Khan made his statement in the presence of SP chief Akhilesh Yadav, who has gone on to defend Khan’s statement. But then, we should hardly be surprised. Khan had earlier referred to Jaya Prada as a ‘nachnewali’ (dancer), the connotations of which go beyond just dancing.
When asked to clarify, Khan said that he wasn’t referring to Jaya Prada at all, adding, “I am disappointed. Media did not like me, I also did not like them. They have caused damage to the country.” So, the media was at fault for guessing what everyone at the Rampur rally understood.
This is hardly the first time that misogynist comments have been wilfully forgiven. The late Sunanda Tharoor was called a ‘50-crore girlfriend’ by Narendra Modi. Smriti Irani was described as a ‘thumke lagaane wali’ (roughly translated as a hips-waistthrusting dancer) by Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam. The list of poorly disguised innuendos is endless.
It’s clear that many of our politicians have little regard for the model code of conduct — never mind decency.
Yet, there is some solace to be taken from the fact that the Election Commission (EC) suspended Azam Khan and Maneka Gandhi from campaigning for three and two days respectively — after being prodded by the Supreme Court to take action. UP chief minister Adityanath and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mayawati were also suspended from campaigning for three and two days respectively for their ‘Ali vs Bajrang Bali’ public tête-à-tête.
Then you have a politician like Trinamool Congress candidate from Asansol, West Bengal, Moon Moon Sen beseeching people to vote for her so that it would bring peace to her mother’s — the popular actress Suchitra Sen — departed soul. Which would have been funny, had she not also described West Bengal’s Bihari residents making ‘very good police informers’ in an earlier rally. With mouths like these, who needs fingers to vote?