Modi vs Rahul: Hapless electorate watch in silence as vitriol goes beyond limit ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha election

After Ashwini Kumar Choubey, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, called Congress chief Rahul Gandhi a naali ke keede (sewer bug) and did not get called out for it by his prime minister or party for its sheer crassness, it became pretty clear that our march to our tryst with destiny at the hustings 2019 will be to the beat of vulgarity and profanity. Tum Tara Tum Tara Tum. When you recall that Choubey had labelled Sonia Gandhi the mythical demon Putana, which means promiscuous in Italian, and referred to Rahul as a “foreign parrot” and was not censured, the message from the ranks and files is clear — anything goes.

File images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

File images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. PTI

With every passing day, it gets worse and you wonder when the four-letter words and the Hindi curses silently mouthed on TV and probably made universally popular and familiar by the members of the Indian cricket team will enter the fray and be acceptable ammunition. After Choubey’s latest fling what is left?

Why we, the people, have to bear silent witness to this now rather a sick level of antagonism is a question that demands an answer.

We have a Congress president with 48 seats out of 545 who spares no opportunity with his paltry below 10 percent of the house strength to equate himself with the prime minister and fight in the same weight class.

We have a prime minister with 272 seats who paradoxically allows Rahul to bloat himself up like a puffer fish by not just acknowledging his every utterance but also responding to it and then upping the stakes by attacking him, his mother and the whole Gandhi ancestry. On a regular basis indicating that some atavistic fear of the very dynasty held in contempt still permeates the BJP psyche.

Much of the current mutual pouring of vitriol can be traced back to the undergrad ‘huglomacy’ that Rahul engaged in during the last session of Parliament on 20 July. This upped the ante. The gesture was soured when an unrelated wicked wink was linked to the embrace and the media sold it as a mockery of Modi. Now, the gloves are off and the Rahul-Modi bout has begun in real earnest. Rabbit punches, foul kicks, below the belt jabs are all par for the course and 1.2 billion Indians who may fondly hope that 2019 will bring time-bound plans and manifestos and economic and employment relief can expect little more than verbal volleys over the run-up to the fateful day.

Now every remark demands a retaliation.

A day after Rahul said he could become the prime minister if the Congress emerges as the single largest party in the next Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Modi moaned about the  “dynastic” trait in Rahul. He recalled the younger man’s “obsessive dream of becoming the prime minister even as he remains unconcerned about the crumbling Congress, the state of the nation or even the plight of his Amethi constituency”.

Rahul then called him a chowkidar-bhagirdar and instead of letting the man prattle on, Modi gave him props needlessly by saying he loved being a guardian of the poor.

The Congress president goes abroad to Britain and Germany and even there he cannot resist nipping at Modi.

On his first day in London on Friday, Rahul raised various issues to knock Modi. The Rafale pong of scandal, Women’s Reservation Bill, unemployment in India, Doka La stand-off and India-Pakistan relations. Not satisfied with this much hostility he then compared RSS to the Muslim Brotherhood. In Germany, he waffled on sans facts about the BJP government excluding tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development narrative and “this could be a dangerous thing”.

Did BJP high command treat the mini-speeches in inconsequential gatherings with the contempt they deserved? Oh no, that would be too smart. Instead, they shrieked in agony and a whole slew of them went on the town to castigate Rahul for his anti-Indian stance abroad, giving him priceless publicity exactly what he wanted. Even the Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan got in on the act saying Rahul had defamed India.

It is not so much the endless slurring but the insult it is for the electorate that is the main issue. Surely, the people of India deserve a little more grace and dignity than this.

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Updated Date: Sep 03, 2018 17:35:39 IST

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