Dirty politics

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Dec 2017 10:54:22

CONGRESS party has done well to suspend Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar from its membership for making an ungainly remark about Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi. It must be admitted that the remark was truly dirty and Mr. Aiyar’s explanation that he did not know Hindi well did not stand to any scrutiny. Realising that Mr. Aiyar has really insulted the Prime Minister, the red-faced Congress leadership chose to suspend him from primary membership. This gesture should be appreciated. 

This episode raises certain important issues as regards the language our electoral politics has assumed over the past some decades. Every Indian citizen realises that the language of all parties, without exception, assumes a dirty dimension the moment elections are declared. What follows is nothing but a mud-slinging match in which no-holds-barred words find expression and rival leaders are attacked in the most undesirable manner. So lowly becomes the expressions on countless occasions that the common people feel ashamed of having been part of such a scene. Despite this huge popular embarrassment, the election campaigners never restrain themselves while making comments about the rival leaders.

On countless occasions, the saner elements in politics or in the larger Indian society have tried to instill a sense of responsibility among political campaigners, urging them to follow the principle of basic restraint. The experience is that their wiser counsel is often ignored as something impractical. It appears that they are eager to prove right the statement by a wise man that ‘Politics is the last resort of scoundrels’.

It is against this background that the action of the Congress party to suspend Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar’s membership because of his uncouth remark about Mr. Modi comes across as a good gesture. Everybody must understand the spirit behind the tough stance of the Congress leadership. It is, of course, true that the Congress leadership was worried about loss of its own face as well and wanted to do the necessary damage-control. Whatever that may mean, the overall gesture of taking strong action against Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar is to be welcomed.

This point should be treated by the Indian political community to start a better era when abusive language is discarded totally during elections or otherwise. It is in the best interest of the country’s politics that all political parties agree upon a code of conduct in which responsible and honourable language becomes an integral part. Once that code comes into effect, democracy will assume a greater and better meaning in our midst.

Democracy is a system in which respect for everybody is the fundamental principle. In Indian politics, however, this basic principle seems to get forgotten by leaders of all parties without exception. This is something unacceptable and makes it necessary to have a proper code of conduct installed for all-time use, elections or no elections. It is true that when elections are called, all parties enter the fray with a lot of preparation -- good, bad or indifferent. But when when they launch their respective campaigns, all political parties must remember that they must never cross the line of restraintful conduct.

Even as the world has often appreciated the Indian democratic experiment, it has also felt awkward at the ballistic and ungentlemanly side of electoral campaign. This happens in most countries. Yet, the experience is that in India things tend to go rather too overboard. It is this ugly aspect that needs to be erased forever by restraintful conduct of all the members of the political community, no matter which political organisation they may be belonging to. This is the precise need of the hour.