oppn parties Politicians Must Be Put On A Verbal Leash During Electioneering

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Politicians Must Be Put On A Verbal Leash During Electioneering

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2022-02-17 13:54:18

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator.

The overall decline in public discourse in India shows its ugliest face during election campaigns. Close on the heels of the utterly gross remark on Rahul Gandhi's parentage by Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma come the controversial statement by Punjab chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi who exhorted voters in Punjab to keep "bhaiyyas" from UP and Bihar out of the state.

Sarma made the foul remark while campaigning in UP. He was worked up that Rahul Gandhi and the Congress had demanded proof of the surgical strikes by the Indian Army in Pakistan. He said that if the people do not demand the proof whether Rahul is actually the son of late Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi, why does he demand proof of everything, especially something vouched for by the Army. How, pray, are the two things related? Even by the leeway granted to politicians during election campaigns, this was one of the worst remarks one has heard in a long time. But such is the standard of public discourse in India that politicians do not think twice before unleashing the worst of abuse.

Channi, on the other hand, thinks that Punjab belongs only to the Punjabis. Does he know that migrant labour from Bihar and UP are the ones who provide yeoman's service on the fields and help in Punjab being the granary of India? Does he know that Punjabis from all walks of life have migrated to other states (and even abroad) in large numbers and are flourishing and well respected wherever they have settled? In any case, India, including Punjab, is for all Indians irrespective of where they come from. Instead of talking about desh jodo, Channi was indulging in desh todo by instigating the Punjab voters against people from UP and Bihar.

Enough is enough. Such unparliamentary language should be banned even during election campaigns. Politicians must learn to be civil and must not make personal attacks and remarks that disparage a community or a class of people during election campaigning. It is shameful that politicians who are expected to lead by example are becoming the worst examples of all that is wrong. The Election Commission has turned into a toothless body and cannot be expected to control this as it had done nothing about inflammatory hate speeches in the past. Banning a star campaigner for a few days is not the solution. Such speeches should be banned and if made, the person should be made to immediately relinquish all posts he or she holds and be barred from contesting elections for 5 years. An independent body headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and comprising of civil society representatives must decide who crosses the limit as per well-defined parameters. The attitude of anything goes during electioneering must be discarded.