Show restraint, EC tells parties as Bihar polls near

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Jitan Ram Manjhi at a meeting at Sasaram in Rohtas district of Bihar on Friday. — PHOTO: RANJEET KUMAR  

As the level of the campaign for the Bihar Assembly polls deteriorated into personal attacks, the State Election Commission has sent a letter to all political parties to show restraint while commenting on rivals.

State Chief Electoral Officer K. Ajay Kumar’s letter expressed “anguish and serious concern about the plummeting levels of political speeches made by various political party leaders and candidates in the ongoing general elections in Bihar.”

“The tone and tenor of the political speeches have been found to be calculated to cause mutual hatred, disharmony or ill-will and aimed to aggravate the differences between different political parties and classes of citizens on the grounds of religion, caste and community which the Model Code of Conduct dissuades the political parties and candidates [from]”, said the EC letter.

>Read: PM Modi thinks he is the 'Big Boss', says Lalu Prasad Yadav

Slide in discourse

The discourse has seen an unedifying slide from Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief fat-shaming BJP president Amit Shah when the latter got stuck in a lift in Patna, saying “such a bulky man should not get into lifts” to Mr. Shah calling attention to Mr. Lalu Prasad’s conviction by a CBI special court in the fodder scam by terming him a “chaara chor (fodder thief).

>Editorial: Beneath the veneer, partisan parlance

Mr. Shah was termed a “nar bhakshi” or cannibal, again by Mr. Lalu Prasad and he was in turn termed as someone who consorted with the devil by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On Friday, Mr. Prasad took things a little further. “If I’m devil, PM Modi is brahm pisaach [demon] and I know the medicine to drive this demon from Bihar,” he said.

Eclipse of ideology blamed for fall in standards

As the level of the campaign for the Bihar Assembly polls deteriorated into personal attacks, experts attributed the fall in standards to the eclipse of political ideology. According to Saibal Gupta, founder of the Asian Development Research Institute, there have been acrimonious elections in Bihar in the past, but none with this kind of rhetoric.

“This is commensurate with the eclipse of ideology in political parties. Earlier one would refer to rivals being ‘capitalist so and so’ or pseudo socialist or something, now levels of personal accusation have reached the lowest level, since parties have moved beyond ideology to promoting families, etc,” he said.

The tangled history of the broken alliances in Bihar, between the BJP and the Janata Dal (U) and the RJD and the Ram Vilas Paswan-led Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) haven’t helped much.

>Comment: Consolidated identities, but divided loyalties

Prime Minister Narendra Modi perhaps termed it best on Friday morning in Aurangabad, when he said that political parties were scouring dictionaries to find more swear words to use against him. By the time the fifth phase of polling rolls around, that may yet become redundant.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 1:17:42 AM |

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