Verbal missiles

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By: Subodh Jha

The election seasons in India witness vicious puns that are almost verbal missiles fired to belittle and sometimes abuse the rivals. It is actually painful to see our leaders stooping to a new low in every election. Occasional puns and pejorative barbs has always been there in the political discourse, but in recent days, the choice of words are indicative of not only political rivalry but of deeper antagonism between the political parties. The media is putting the blame of this, like everything else, on our Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who seems to have become the favorite bashing boy of the left leaning pseudo intellectuals. Where, as it can’t be said that Modiji is not using pejorative political barbs against his rivals, he certainly cannot be blamed for this deterioration in the level of political exchanges and rhetoric.

Turning the pages of recent history, we can find that the BJP has been attacked vehemently by the Congress under the leadership of Ms. Sonia Gandhi. I can still remember the parliament speech of visibly perturbed former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, delivered on 19th August 2003. In that speech Mr. Vajpayee quotes the following comments of the then Congress president Ms. Sonia Gandhi “The BJP led government has shown itself to be incompetent, incestive, irresponsible and brazenly corrupt. It is the government that has betrayed the mandate”. He further laments the choice of words of the Congress leader and advices her to exercise restraint and fight in a dignified manner, respecting the traditions of the great nation. Moreover, who can forget the “Maut Ka Saudagar” (Merchant of Death) barb of Ms. Gandhi hurled at Modiji in the run up to the 2007 Gujarat assembly election. Modiji has never been the kind of person who will listen to the outrageous words of the opposition and remain quiet. He took up the onus to repay the Congress and its president in their own coins. Now, when they are getting the taste of tit for tat, they are complaining that Modiji is lowering the dignity of the PM’s chair. Was Mr. Rahul Gandhi in trance when he tore the ordinance on convicted politicians? And although it is the only sensible thing to have been done by the Congress president in his entire career, was the dignity of the chair raised when vice president of the ruling party over powered the Prime Minister?

 Atalji believed in good old human virtues and Modiji is a relatively practical person. The BJP of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s era and the current BJP is different on this count. The virtues and vices don’t have clear demarcation and the quality that may be a virtue for one may be misconstrued as inability or weakness in someone else. Non-violence is virtuous for a saint but, it may be foolish for an army general. Mr. Gopal Krishna Gandhi has discussed in his article “Obscured virtues” (published in The Telegraph, 25th March 2018) that the use of ‘gadha’ as an abuse reinforces the fact that the virtues of forbearance and tolerance beyond a limit becomes degrading. All virtues depend upon situations.

It is evident from our religious scriptures and epics that evils can’t be defeated without becoming evil. For defeating the Kauravas the Pandavas indulged into trickery and compromised with their virtuousness, that too on instigation of Lord Krishna. Similarly, Rama killed Bali hiding behind a tree because the King of Kishkindha had the boon that he will get half the strength of anyone who came to fight with him in the battlefield. Taking a leaf from these stories and lessons from past defeats, Modi’s BJP is countering the adversaries and using all the weapons used by them with higher dexterity.

 

Author's Personal Thought