Karnataka polls: Another election campaign ruined as politicians choose personal attacks over real issues

Thankfully, the electioneering or, more realistically, the badmouthing, sneering and below-the-belt campaigning in Karnataka is coming to an end. It is tragic that the biggest element in this exercise is the brouhaha over Rahul Gandhi saying he is ready to be prime minister in 2019.

Look what the electorate has to absorb before casting its vote. Nothing but sharp and long knives laced with vituperative.

At the outset, what this remark has to do with the aspirations of 65 million people in the state and their hopes distorted through the prism of whom they elect on Saturday for the next five years is a mystery.

File image of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Reuters and AP

File image of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Agencies

It is so utterly irrelevant to what will occur in the hustings that it should not even be a passing shower and here is everyone, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, picking it up as a major storm of an issue and running with it.

Gandhi was asked a question about whether he was prepared to wear that mantle and he said yes. So what? How is it an expression of arrogance or a dynastic giveaway? Rahul Gandhi has been running around the country as president of his party for months. So, it is no great revelation that he intends to be the fourth prime minister in his family. There are no cigars for figuring this out, so why the breathless outrage and shock? You think he is doing all this not to be prime minister or is he in the race to outrun Usain Bolt?

And imagine if he had said that he had no intention of becoming prime minister. He would have been castigated as a milksop, a boy with no gravel in his gut, only jello in his spine, fooling the public while toying with them and other such stuff. He is not an issue vis-à-vis that post in this state election and should not be marketed for or against.

And it does not stop here. Sonia Gandhi has called Modi a liar. He has, in turn, questioned her Indianness, which is such a boring old accusation. Amit Shah has added fuel by labeling SDPI and PFI as divisive forces in the state and also deftly used the ‘farmer suicide’ card to indict the Siddaramaiah government, saying that he didn’t care enough. These are all clever ploys now and while they may all shed crocodile tears, the truth is no one really cared.

And so, it goes on. Where once there were manifestos and time-bound promises and plans on offer to the voter, it is now a fish market with nothing but shrill voices and vicious attacks, so overwhelming that whether it is the Congress or the BJP or the other parties, it is more a question of drawing blood.

Shah says that false voter cards were found in Rajarajeshwari Nagar and an FIR filed against an MLA, a Congressman at that. Frankly, if this is an indicator for the texture of the general elections next year, we should find those tears Mark Antony was seeking for Julius Caesar and shed them now because it will be a political funeral for the country.

Like Bertolt Brecht said, what if they gave a war and nobody came? If I was registered in Karnataka, I'd be hard-placed not to say: You gave an election but I am not coming.

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Updated Date: May 10, 2018 20:14 PM

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