Friday, May 9, 2014

The 2014 Parliamentary Election Campaign and its Aftermath: A Bitter War of Words unleashed by the Congress party

A look at the world of politics, statecraft, diplomacy and books

The dust is slowly settling on the unusually long, and even by the standards of Indian electoral rhetoric, a very ugly campaign season. The Congress party set the trend when its President, Sonia Gandhi in an election rally accused the BJP of sowing fields of poison, an Indian expression which cannot be rendered easily into English. Zehar ki Kheti, the phrase used by Sonia Gandhi implies a deliberate cultivation of poison inorder to entrap innocents. The ugliness inherent in this remark set the benchmark for others to equal or exceed the shock quotient of Sonia's vulgar and tasteless rhetoric. And the BJP returnrd the compliment in kind.

Throughout the last two years, Hon'ble Narendra Modi in his speeches has been trying to focus attention on three issues: development, corruption and security, both internal and external. He deliberately set aside all divisive issues so that the Electorate makes up its mind in an informed manner. The old style Indian electoral politics of raising caste, religion, region and language controversies were set aside for a highly civilized campaign based on performance and governance. The Congress party rattled by the response that Modi was getting decided to go on the offensive and picked up caste and religion as weapons from its well stocked armory.  The wild charges leveled by Priyanka Gandhi on Narendra Modi set the stage for the rivals to rake up the controversial land deals of her husband, Shri Robert Vardra. This uneducated man with absolutely no resources was able to build up an empire with assets of nearly 1,000 crore rupees. His business model was simple and ingenious. He would approach a real estate or construction company for a soft loan to buy land and use soft loan to buy land from Congress rules states and get the land use changed and subsequently sell the same land back to the same developers for windfall profits. The BJP called this model the R S V P Model, each letter standing for Rahul, Sonia, Vadra and Priyanka respectively. The Congress retaliated by accusing Hon;ble Narendra Modi of gifting land to industrialists at throw away prices and their ire was directed against Adnani a business tycoon who like most businessmen in crony capitalism friendly India was equally close to the Congress and it turned out that much of his deals had materialized during the Congress regime.

The personal attacks on Narendra Modi were both vulgar and intense. Any lesser man would have wilted under the intense and well orchestrated campaign of vulga personal attack directed at Narendra Modi. The fact that Hon;ble Naendra Modi had married Jodhabehn when he was very young was raked up to question his marital status and of course the calumny that a man who abandoned his spouse cannot be trusted. This campaign was a clever one inthat it touched a nerve right at the heart of Indian social values. Fortunately, the clarification issued by the brother of Modiji's spouse cleared the air and the campaign of Rahul Gandhi just exploded on the face of the Congress party. Then the Congress shifted its attack on the Other Backward caste status claimed by Narendra Modi. Having brought in the dimension of "high" politics and "low" politics into the electoral discourse the Congress stirred up the caste cauldron hoping to conjure up the witches brew. The unseemly remarks of Priyanka Gandhi came in handy during the last phase of the Polls which were to take place for 33 seats in UP and Bihar, and the BJPwent to town over the remark and made it appear that the Congress was dividing the people on the basis of caste. The thoughtless remarks of an uneducated and unsophisticated young woman, Priyanka Gandhi came in handy to tear the "inclusive" character of the dynastic fascist outfit, the Congress party.

The conduct of the Election Commission was not above board. India has a constitutionally mandated Election Commission whice usually does a good job. In Varanasi where Narendra Modi is also contecsting against the AAP candidate Arvind KLhejriwal Narendra Modi was denied permission to hold a rally while Rahul Gandhi and Kejriwal were accorded permission. The discrimination was brought before the public of Varansi in a huge way.

The election process spread over 50 days has led the politicians particularly the Congress apprehensive of impending defeat to use identity issues to degrade the election. However, the next Government is likely to be the Narendra Modi's.

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