The people of India were looking forward to the 2014 election campaign expecting leaders to confine their speeches to issues of a political and social nature and desisting from any form of personal attack (“Campaign turns vitriolic,” April 29). By and large, this principle was followed till the seventh phase. But things have changed since with all kinds of issues of a personal, casteist and religious nature being tossed around and reaching fever pitch. We should be aware of the kind of image we are projecting of ourselves. India is staring at the possibility of a hung Parliament.
As an octogenarian who has been following successive elections, I have never witnessed such a low level of verbal exchanges among parties. What is happening now is nauseating. It looks as though parties are just not worried or bothered about common citizens. Our leaders should look at how elections are fought in the U.S. and how healthy debate prevails. In this election, the word “decency” appears to have become a dirty word.
The sad truth is that as electioneering is drawing to an end, vilification and exchange of barbs are increasing with parties running out of nouns and adjectives that refer to the animal kingdom. Instead of scripting a much-anticipated political success story, the BJP’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi has completely forgotten that he is the political and democratic face of India. He has only succeeded in angering a number of smaller parties (“Modi’s comment angers Mamata,” April 29). As a potential Prime Minister in the making, he must exhibit exemplary patience, equanimity and rise above the petty and personal comments made by his opponents. The fact that smaller parties are now retaliating by repeatedly raking up Gujarat 2002 shows that Mr. Modi is vulnerable.
The media are considered to be major tools in shaping public opinion. But the bulk of the information we read and hear is only about petty verbal charges — that is leading us nowhere. Going by the letters in this column, it appears that voters have been “tri-sected” — as pro-Modi, anti-Modi and pro-Kejriwal. Issues of governance, distributive development, foreign policy and ideology have all been cast aside. The party supposed to be in the lead is fanning rhetoric that has taken on a communal colour. What is haunting is that the media are not opposing this trend but instead propagating it.
Amid the exchange of “Rapid fire” (April 29), it is becoming clear that no single party will be able to touch the finish line alone and will need external support. The spanner in the works for Mr. Modi is the desertion by the Janata Dal United (JD-U). Despite the Congress being the oldest party, it seems to be rudderless without the firm guiding hand of many of its senior leaders. If the BJP wins, the world will be watching how India’s international policies will take shape. Situational politics breeds situational ethics, and we have seen this happen all the time.