Millennium Post

Dirty or clean money?

The credit of initiating the reforms goes to the then Chief Election Commissioner T N Sheshan.

The ball which he rolled has been rerolled by his successors time and again resulting in emergence of the silent and invisible election campaigns.  The long processions, unlimited flags, banners and posters, the audio cassettes being played on the rickshaws, screening of campaign films, long fleets of vehicles and nautankis have disappeared. Public defacement has substantially decreased though the role of behind the scene money power and wine distribution has not yet been curtailed.

The door to door campaign, of course, is dominated by the money power and wine whereas the nature and modalities of outdoor campaign has been completely transformed. With disappearance of traditional loud campaign modes, the FM channels, electronic channels and cinemas are being utilised extensively by the political parties and candidates.

The usage of these modes is picking up fast as they have proved to be result-oriented. The advertisements being inserted in the newspapers, being a high cost approach, has not been able to make a niche for itself as the visibility of the papers is not long lasting anymore. The newspapers are being dumped as waste material in the bin. The other modes are the public meetings and mammoth rallies wherein the local and national leaders have been making use of their oratory skills. The number of such meetings and rallies has been restricted to less than the earlier numbers when there used to be no close watch on the expenses. The verbal attacks being made by the leaders are grabbing headlines in the newspapers apart from repeated telecast by the electronic channels. The leaders have been using restrain in expressing themselves though large number of verbal outrage incidents are being reported.   The incidents are being countered by the opponents, hence creating an atmosphere conducive to the hatred and possible violence in some cases.

The political parties and their leaders in run up to woo the voters generally violate the election commission guidelines on criticising each other. The commission only allows criticism by a party on the policies, programmes and the past performance of the other parties.  The ongoing use of verbal missiles by the leaders has also vitiated the political ethics and values.  It is even being described as the cheap political approach.

One of the prominent leaders, Narender Modi while attacking the Congress party spoke too low about the election symbol of the party.  The words ‘khooni Panja and Zalim Panja’ for the election symbol created an unpleasant situation.  Addressing an election rally he said, ‘In case people want to save Chhatisgarh from the murderous hand, they would have to press the button alongside the lotus symbol’.  The congress party has taken it as the bad and controversial language. Apart from the dislike by the affected political party people are also expressing their concern on the usage of the objectionable words. The Congress Party has also taken note of Modi’s speech at a rally at Bahraich where he stated that in the next election CBI and Indian Mujahideen may take care of the election so as to save the fortress of the Congress. The earlier incident is being considered as a violation of the model code of conduct and may be complained to the election commission for a possible official condemnation.  The statement  of  the  Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi  in an election rally in Madhya Pradesh allegedly referring to the ISIs attempt to contact the riot affected youth in Uttar Pradesh also resulted in much hue and cry by the opponent party. The election commission was forced to take cognisance of the issue. A clarification has since been filed by the Congress leader.

One might not have forgotten the words of a youth leader and Lok Sabha BJP candidate Varun Gandhi from Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh during 2009 general elections. While addressing election rallies he made a derogatory statement about a particular community and went on to say that anybody venturing to attack another community would not be spared and his hands would be straight away chopped off. This not only  created hatred but a law and order situation in the state.  The statement of the Congress President Sonia Gandhi during the last Gujarat Assembly elections was criticised by the BJP. Her allegedly referring Modi as the trader of deaths became a debatable issue during elections.

Of late, people have been suggesting the prominent leaders either to change their speech writers or refrain from making statements likely to violate the guidelines of the election commission. Seemingly the violations take place at that very point of time when the leaders try to hit hard the opponents. Anyhow we don’t have such leaders as we used to have three decades ago, they were prized with an exceptional sense of humour and were capable enough to twist things immediately on learning about violation.    

The author is a communication consultant
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