In the heat of elections, no stone is left unturned to gain a favourable perception in the people’s minds. If there is not much to talk about what a party has to offer vis-à-vis development and progress, the mistakes of the political opponents are exposed.
While a party may not directly make comments or cast aspersions, private individuals and even media, especially the TV channels who either overtly or covertly support a party get into the fray. However, in trying to do so, people often get carried away and indulge in mudslinging and slander.
As the BJP finds itself in a tight spot, as people questioned the intention behind the party’s decision to field eight members from the infamous Reddy Brothers’ inner circle of friends and family, its supporters are in the lurch trying to defend it.
While we fight for #WomenEmpowerment in the wake of Kathua & Unnao incidents, we see a woman shaming other women! @madhukishwar's statement says more about her own thought process than anything else. Her words are absolutely sickening and demean political discourse altogether. https://t.co/pR6k796xVp— Youth Congress (@IYC) May 2, 2018
Good to see @divyaspandana's work has been so impressive that BJP proxies Republic and Madhu Kishwar are going after her with all the misogyny and spin at their command, during this Karnataka campaign.— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) May 3, 2018
Is Madhu Kishwar @madhukishwar directly linking rise of women in politics to immorality of that woman ...?? ????It is a direct insult to @smritiirani, @SushmaSwaraj, @nsitharaman, and even @madhukishwar ????I condemn this & ask @NCWIndia to take note of this????— Veena D (@The_veenaD) May 2, 2018
BS Yeddyurappa, whom the party had disowned earlier due to the corruption charges he faced, is widely perceived to be the chief ministerial candidate. Yeddyurappa is seen as losing clout as his rivals, the Reddy brothers, claim a chunk of the tickets to contest the elections.
With such tainted candidates, it is natural that the people question the BJP about its seriousness in containing graft. Given that in the past few months, many corporate fraudsters have fled the country, (either due to sheer incompetence of the government or because it is in connivance) the supporters of the BJP are scurrying to project their failures/guilt onto other parties.
For instance, the Republic TV channel, cast aspersions on the Congress social media chief, Divya Spandana, by linking her name to the fugitive corporate honcho, Vijay Mallya. In an "exclusive" the channel dug out tweets from Spandana’s Twitter handle between 2010 and 2012, when she was a brand ambassador for the Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL team. This, the Republic TV said would embarrass the Congress party, as its social media chief had links with the "financial terrorist" (as the channel described Mallya on the show). Republic TV, however, ignored the fact that the "financial terrorist", was an independent candidate for the Rajya Sabha, from Karnataka, and won because he was supported by the JD(S) and the BJP. With a lot of "excess votes", the BJP had decided to support Mallya to keep out Congress candidate TV Maruti.
While such acts of omission by a TV channel that appears very close to the ruling dispensation can be taken with a pinch of salt, what is inexcusable is any individual or group casting aspersions on people’s characters.
Quoting the "exclusive" TV report, writer and academic Madhu Kishwar questioned the character of Spandana in very despicable language, in addition to using derogatory and demeaning words for Congress president Rahul Gandhi. It is ironic that a person who claims to be a crusader for human rights would actively demean political adversaries. Rather than lead by example and promote a culture of dialogue, as is expected of intellectuals across the political spectrum, Kishwar has often been provocative on Twitter.
Despite claiming to be a champion of human rights, she has often made comments that can be seen as inciting hatred among people. As the nation debated the heart-rending case of rape in Kathua, Kishwar stated that the family of the accused may have been scape-goated, for a crime committed by the "jihadi" Rohingyas. While she is entitled to her views, it is abhorring that a writer and academic would paint an entire community as being jihadi.
While human rights crusaders are aghast about the crimes being committed against the Rohingyas, Kishwar sees nothing wrong in referring to an entire community fleeing persecution (a UN official is even convinced it is genocide) as being jihadi, which essentially is euphemism for terrorism.
While in the heat of elections, many things can be ignored, such instances of casting aspersions on people’s character and sowing seeds of hatred are uncalled for.
We should indulge in debate and not slander.