Assembly elections 2018: Political discourse desperately needs a course correction

Delhi, India Nov 28, 2018, 10.01 AM(IST) Written By: Rajendra Pratap Gupta

File photo of PM Modi. Photograph:( ANI )

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Elections must be fought on issues of public interest, on the achievements of the candidate, on his vision for his/her electorate and not deriding or chiding the competitor

This election campaign has set a new low for political discourse, and it was evident from the following statements for the Prime Minister of the country. Congress MP Raj Babbar had mocked PM’s mother and said that the value of the Rupee has reached her age. Another Congress leader Vilasrao Muttemwar had said: “Nobody knows the name of Modi’s father.”

Earlier, barbs like ‘Maut ka Saudagar’, ‘50 crore ki Girlfriend’, ‘Chor Chowkidar’, ‘Clown Prince’ were among the many vitriolic attacks that had done the rounds from all sides of the political spectrum. In a mature and a progressive democracy, such statements are uncalled for and senior leaders should avoid the temptation to make such derogatory statements. Both sides will enter the assemblies or Parliament and will have to work together. Then why create such bitterness during elections?

From a voter standpoint, we don’t feel it is right and neither do we approve of such statements. As a voter, it is easy for us to judge the events and decide why one is making such a statement. Either, the person making a statement does not have worthy things to talk about or/and have a poor track record of delivery, or the oratory is weak enough to get covered in the media or heard by the voter. Or he lacks the vision for his electorate.

Whatever the reason may be, the statement brings down the decorum of the position one is holding or fighting for and also makes it appear cheap before the listeners. Media headlines will last for a day or a few days, but the wrong impression and a bad precedent created will last for a lifetime. Who has forgotten Mani Shankar Iyer’s “Neech Aadmi” statement or Sonia Gandhi’s “Maut ka Saudagar” jibe. Still the public voted Narendra Modi to power with a massive majority. Why waste time and opportunity to bring down someone with such cheap tactics? Rather, get down to real issues, list your achievements and leave your voters spellbound with your articulation of the vision for their prosperity.

Here is the transcript of what transpired between Senator John McCain and a voter during the US Presidential Campaign

Voter: “I gonna ask you a question. I don’t know, and I can’t even trust Obama. I have read about him… he is… he is not … he is an Arab..

Senator McCain: “No, no, Ma’am. He is a decent, family man, a citizen, that I happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, that what this campaign is all about. He is not  (meaning, he is not an Arab)!  Thank you! 

And the public responded with a loud applause.

Senator McCain could have used the opportunity to side with the lady for the sake of creating a doubt in the minds of the people about his opponent, more so, when it was an opportunity served on the platter. But he chose not to stoop so low,  and this speaks of his ideas and his firmness to not compromise with his conscience. Elections will be won or lost but conscience should never be compromised.

Senator John McCain is no more but he will remain a role model for politicians. Politics is a platform to serve the society, and people who make derogatory statements and vilify with raucous public statements certainly are not there to serve the public but perhaps serve themselves or pump up their ego. Such people should have no place in public life.

Elections must be fought on issues of public interest, on the achievements of the candidate, on his vision for his/her electorate and not deriding or chiding the competitor. People should be able to choose who has the best track record or a great vision for his electorate. Perhaps the lack of which forces the candidates to fall low and make personal attacks.

This reminds me of a quote attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt: Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. 

We are looking for great minds in politics!

(This article was originally published on DNA. Read the original article)

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)