The good, the ugly and the absurd of the political discourse (Election Special)

New Delhi, April 6: They haven’t yet come down to expletives, but in this make or break battle to win the parliamentary election and govern India, the country’s politicians have been unsparing in personal attacks and stooping to new lows in political discourse. One candidate was even arrested for his hate speech. There are also some who have praised their political opponents – much to the surprise of their rivals.

A lowdown on the choicest of barbs, invectives and, even, some approbation:

* Narendra Modi: BJP’s prime ministerial candidate has lashed out at Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and at the Congress at various rallies. Here’s a sample:

“Sonia Gandhi should answer the people on who helped the two Italian marines get safe passage from India…Just because they are from Italy, they cannot be subjected to different treatment.” The remark was on Sonia Gandhi’s Italian lineage.

“Sonia Gandhi has told Rahul that power is poison. Who has been in power for most of the time during the last 60 years? In whose stomach has this poison gone? Who is spewing this poison? Who is harvesting the poison? They (Congress) are the ones who sow the seeds of poison.”

“The shahzada (Rahul) and his matashree (Sonia) are just concerned about being in power. When they can forget you, why will you remember them? How long will you remember them?”

Taking a dig at Rahul in Kurukshetra (Haryana), Modi said “Shehzade” has been talking about the need for all countrymen to act as “chowkidars” (guards) over its resources and asked if his brother-in-law (Robert Vadra) would also be one of those keeping guard. “Shehzada, people want to know what goes on in your house.”

* Sonia Gandhi: The Congress chief has not named Modi directly but has described him as a “liar”.

“They say they will change everything in one day with a magic wand. Will the country chose as the prime minister a person who is a big liar?”

“I firmly believe that you (the people of northern Karnataka) will not allow those who sow the seeds of poison, who don’t believe in secular credentials and who play the politics of instigating violence to succeed.”

* Varun Gandhi: The BJP candidate from Sultanpur praised his cousin Rahul Gandhi for implementing various programmes to help the small-scale industry in Amethi.

“I want to usher in a new form of politics. We need small-scale industries for development, the kind of good work self-help groups set up by Rahulji have done in Amethi, though I have not seen the work personally.”

* Heeralal Regar: Varun Gandhi’s fellow leader, BJP legislator Heeralal Regar, however, threatened to strip Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. “Sonia and Rahul Gandhi should be stripped off their clothes and sent back to Italy.” He subsequently apologised for the remarks.

* Imran Masood: The Congress Lok Sabha candidate from Saharanpur said at a public rally he “will not allow (Narendra) Modi to make Gujarat out of UP”. He then allegedly threatened “to chop Modi into pieces”, adding 42 percent of the population in Uttar Pradesh was Muslim as compared to the four percent in Gujarat. He was arrested on March 29.

* Sharad Pawar: A day after Modi criticized the agriculture minister over the state of the hailstorm-hit farmers in Maharashtra, Pawar hit back, saying Modi needed to be treated in a mental hospital for talking rubbish.

* Salman Khurshid: The external affairs minister didn’t mince words in attacking Modi. “We don’t accuse you (Modi) of killing people… Hamara aarop hai ki tum ‘napunsak’ (impotent) ho. (Our accusation is that you are impotent). You couldn’t stop the killers,” he added.

* Smriti Irani & Kumar Vishwas: As actor-turned-politician Smriti Irani entered the fray as a BJP candidate in Amethi, a war of words broke out between her and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) contender Kumar Vishwas.

Kumar Vishwas said :”The message has reached villages. Now whether Irani comes, Pakistani comes, Italian or American… But Amethi has already taken a decision.”

Reacting to the jibe, Smriti Irani said: “As far as Vishwas is concerned, I do not expect an iota of respect from him, especially being a woman. He has a history of being disrespectful towards women.”

* P. Chidambaram: Hitting back at BJP charges against his tenure in the finance ministry, Chidambaram said: “There are deep flaws in his (Modi’s) character. He cannot resist from making such provocative and derogatory remarks”.

* S.M. Krishna: Praise for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) came from unexpected quarters when senior Congress leader and former union minister S.M. Krishna said that everyone in the RSS talked in one voice.

“Everyone in the RSS speaks in one voice and we can learn from them. RSS themselves take their candidate to the polling booth, Congress doesn’t,” Krishna reportedly said.