There have much talk about the demonization of republicans and democrats in the United States especially since Donald Trump became candidate for the position of President. He called his opponent as crooked Hillary, and Hillary Clinton called Trump supporters as basket of deplorables.
But Indian leaders, perhaps taking some cue from the politicians of the oldest democracy, yet certainly adding their own ugly flavors to it.
“There are remarkable parallels in terms of this kind of highly prejudicial and extremely parochial nationalism that both Modi and Trump have promoted and have sought to demonize minorities.”, said Sumit Ganguly, a leftist and Tagore Chair Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Indiana University at Bloomington in an interview on April 9, 2019 with Council of Foreign Relations).
Some examples of low level stench are given below:
Modi while campaigning in Himachal Pradesh for Assembly Election, branded the main opposition party Congress as termites and called the electorates to wipe them out: “There should not be one polling booth where this termite called Congress be allowed to thrive.”
Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Kejriwal had recently called Modi “a Coward and a psychopath” (Outlook India, 06 November 2017)
In 2007 campaign for the Gujarat assembly election, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had indirectly accused Modi and his government as “merchants of death” (Oulook India, 06 NOVEMBER 2017)
In an article on May 20, 2019 The New York Times wrote several disturbing statements on democracy in view of the Indian elections.
“In Hungary, Viktor Orban demonized immigrants and secured an expansion of his power. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan purged his enemies and won a new term. In Australia, Scott Morrison shrugged off calls for tougher carbon-emissions rules and was unexpectedly kept on as leader.
And in India, where the world’s biggest parliamentary election appears to be boiling down to a binary choice — Yes or No on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “
“Trump and Modi are twins separated by continents,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a well-known political commentator, and dalit activist. “Both are against knowledge, they consider the past as the golden period, they consider themselves the center of gravity.”
Observers are looking at this people polarizing trend with disdain.
“…the social media cells of the BJP and the INC seem to be projecting their star campaigners as populist leaders, demonising each other’s parties and supporters, and polarising the voters along religious lines.”, wrote Dr. Sangeeta Mahapatra, LSE Blog, January 11, 2019
“He can’t take care of his wife, he will take care of Indians?,” Mamata Banerjee said during a rally in Bishnupur. (India Today, New Delhi, May 6, 2019). She refused to even take a call from the Prime Minister to discuss the relief work on the cyclone, saying she did not recognize him as the Prime Minister of India!
“Who knew you (Modi) before you became the Prime Minister? Even now, nobody knows the name of your father. (Former Union minister Vilasrao Muttemwar, November 25, 2018).
At one time a BJP MLA, Heeralal Regar, declared his intention to “strip” Sonia and Rahul and transport them to Italy
BJP minister “Sadhvi” Niranjan Jyoti asked a gathering to choose between “Ramzaadon (followers of Lord Ram)” and “haramzaadon (illegitimately born)”
Mani Shankar Aiyar discovered Modi to be a “neech kism ka aadmi (a lowly person)”.
In 2014, a video of Trinamool Congress MP Tapas Pal went viral, where he could be seen openly threatening to rape women members of the opposition (India Today, July 20, 2016).
“I am from Chandannagar. Leaders are created by workers. I am also a goonda. I will shoot you guys if a Trinamool Congress worker is ever attacked. If you have the guts, then stop me… If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers, I won’t spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape,” Pal said.
SP leader Mualayam Singh Yadav had shocked the nation’s conscience when he wondered aloud (about BSP leader Mayawati): “Is she so beautiful that anyone should want to rape her?
“Smriti Irani sits beside leaders like Nitin Gadkari and talks about changing the Constitution. Let me tell you a thing about Smriti Irani. She wears a big ‘bindi’ on her forehead and someone told me that when a woman changes her husbands frequently, the size of her ‘bindi’ keeps growing,” (Jaydeep Kawade, a leader from Maharashtra-based People’s Republican Party).
“Insey bada kayar, insey kamjor Pradhan Mantri main jeevan me nahi dekha, (I haven’t seen a more coward and weaker PM than him in my life).” (Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, May 9, 2019)
“Chowkidar (Modi) chor hai” a phrase invented by Rahul Gandhi for 2019 elections, with nearly no truth in it as asserted by the Supreme Court of India when it made Rahul Gandhi apologize for justifying the phrase by attributing it to the honorable court.
While these utterances may have been said in the heat of political campaigns, the fact that one has to come down to this level reveals the true nature of democracy which can in fact be very dangerous in places like India with unparallel history, philosophy, continuing culture, diversity of nature, humans, languages, and freedom of thoughts.
On the other hand, when Sadhvi Pragya Singh said that she had cursed Hemant Karkare, the police officer who had supervised her torture in jail, she was banned from campaigning for three days by India’s Election Commission. This is the situation in so called free India where a person is not allowed to even moan for the extreme torture meted out to her physically and mentally!
Such a deterioration in discourses can (and perhaps meant to) be divisive and destructive to a society. In other words, democracy has become demonocracy!!
As a silver lining, it may in fact provide a pause to think of an alternative system of governance, at least for India, if not the entire world.
– Prof. Bal Ram Singh, School of Indic Studies, Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, MA, USA & Board Member, WAVES-International