The language of political discourse is getting coarser and coarser. While some leeway is a given considering the national general elections are nearing even as a few states are going in for Assembly polls soon, it appears uncharted depths may be plumbed this time as the stakes seem higher than ever before. But, even by the low standards known to be prevailing in the last decade, Raj Babbar’s snide comparison of the falling rupee to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s aged mother was most crass. Have politicians lost all sense of proportion when it comes to the hustings, with personal broadsides not exempted when it comes to taking on people in public life? The cheapness of dragging in a family member who has not even the remotest connection to politics or public life is too bad to be true. And it is not even factual as the rupee has been climbing back on the strength of tumbling oil prices most lately.
It is clear that the Congress — made to sit out nationally as well as in many states in the last five years — has allowed many crude players to become high-profile politicians in the hope that they would bring value and the votes back. While every Indian has a right to aspire to join politics and aim for power, it is apparent that too many non-serious politicians with no issues to raise and who simply believe in personal abuse, have climbed the rungs in recent times. The Congress president did put his foot down when one of his party leaders raked up caste politics in dragging brahmins into the debate and forced him to retract. The play of communal and caste politics may not have been so innocent. Once a favoured member of the party, C.P. Joshi may have played the caste card just to embarrass his own party rather than take up the issue of the brahmins who are insignificant in numbers to be a major factor in any election.
As hangers-on and people with some claim to popularity through cinema or sports exploit their image and manoeuvre for political power, the level of politics in the country is being further dragged down. While members of the ruling party believe in questioning everyone’s patriotism and flippantly asking many to go to Pakistan if they fail their jingoistic “national” test, the Opposition seems to be hurling invectives like “thief” regularly. Strip away the vitriol and little remains by way of informed public discourse. It boils down to people of two clashing sets of ideologies of the right and left of centre having little else to say except to use words to sustain a vicious tirade against each other. The start of the vilification of personalities rather than criticism of their politics may be traced to one remark — “Maut ka saudagar” — uttered just over a decade ago and all we have seen since then is a rapid deterioration in public discourse and several manifestations of hate politics. So much so, we must fear for the people as their leaders are descending to these levels.