Sticks and stones may break my bones
But harsh words will never harm me.
Come 9 December, Gujarat will show the rest of the country if the slanging match between the Congress wearing the colours of Rahul Gandhi and the BJP in the right corner wearing the colours of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has had any effect on the voters.
With the media sitting in the front row and fanning the flames, we have been witness to several weeks of verbal battering ensuring that more than any major issues, personal insult and insinuation have been the tactics adopted by both combatants. These actions are more in keeping with the conduct of wrestlers in the WWE rather than an honourable battle.
Rahul perhaps started it all when he used the Berkeley campus to attack Modi by painting India as a nation where “violence, anger and the politics of polarisation have raised their ugly head". He later followed that up with a harsh indictment on social media:
महंगी गैस, महंगा राशन
बंद करो खोखला भाषण
दाम बांधो, काम दो
वर्ना खाली करो सिंहासन https://t.co/LMd2KL0N5t
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 5, 2017
"Expensive gas, expensive ration, stop making hollow speeches! Control prices, give jobs else quit the throne," he tweeted. When brother-in-law Robert Vadra was accused of links with an arms dealer, the Congress hit back at Modi, demanding to know who paid for over 100 trips he made by chartered planes across India and abroad during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister. Even the Rafale jet deal was not spared and suspicion was whipped up over whether Modi upped the payment for 36 initial deliveries to please a specific industrialist. The most tragic part is that not a shred of evidence is needed to utter these slurs against character. In recent days, the level of discourse has deteriorated even further. Rahul hit out with schoolboy angst over the release of Hafiz Saeed, tweeting:
Narendrabhai, बात नहीं बनी. Terror mastermind is free. President Trump just delinked Pak military funding from LeT. Hugplomacy fail. More hugs urgently needed.https://t.co/U8Bg2vlZqw — Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) November 25, 2017
Not to be outdone, the BJP struck back in an equal measure with the accusation that Rahul was a Saeed sympathiser. Modi also slammed Rahul with a clever one-liner that may have been a catch-line if it wasn’t part of this tacky package. He said: "I sold tea not the nation."
Congress leaders then joined the fray and pointed a flinty finger at Modi saying he was conducting a campaign to vilify Sonia Gandhi, her son and the larger family.
Modi recently upped the ante by placing on record his disdain: "Congress has no reason to escape now… They don't understand what to do now. In Uttar Pradesh, where they used to win every time. It is a state which is the karmabhoomi of Nehru-Gandhi family. What happened in results?" Modi said while referring to the civic poll debacle. He added, "They know to change their colours. They divide brothers, divide communities."
He then went for another sledgehammer: "Congress is unhappy about demonetisation. They keep attacking me but I want to tell them…I have grown up in the same land as Sardar Patel. I will ensure that the poor get their due. We will not allow this nation to be looted."
No subject has been left out of the abuse fest: Demonetisation, Goods and Services Tax (GST), terrorism, military hardware shopping, surgical strikes, Modi’s hugs, Rahul’s religion, even poor little rich Ivanka Trump.
And while the nation watches this daily name-calling with curiosity and dismay, seeing there is one unanswered question: Where is the voter in all this? What’s in it for the voter?
Updated Date: Dec 04, 2017 17:19 PM