'Brashtachari Number One': Why has our political discourse hit a shocking new low?
Leaders may come and leaders may go, but our morals and ideals should stay intact, no matter how dire the circumstances may be.
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When I say ‘morals’, I am not referring to the Model Code of Conduct that is looked after by our Election Commission, (though we have seen it being violated several times during the 2019 General Elections).
‘Morals’ here simply means the basic human values imbibed by us during our upbringing — morals that perhaps many Indian politicians seem to be lacking.
Censured: Sadhvi Pragya is one of the many politicians reprimanded by the EC over MCC violations. (Source: India Today)
It is often said: ‘Do not speak ill of the dead’, but apparently, our current PM didn’t get the memo. Each time our country goes to vote, there’s mud-slinging, below-the-belt hits and plenty of slander, but rarely have we seen prominent political leaders stoop to such lows where they attack a deceased Prime Minister.
PM Narendra Modi launched a scathing attack on the Congress on May 4, at a rally in Uttar Pradesh, where he indirectly called the former PM Rajiv Gandhi ‘Bhrashtachari No 1’. Apparently addressing Rahul Gandhi, he reportedly said, "Your father was termed 'Mr Clean' by his courtiers, but his life ended as ''Bhrashtachari No 1'' (corrupt number 1)." He was referencing the Bofors scandal that took place in the 1980s which sharply cut the prospects of the Congress coming back to power.
PM Modi's 'Bhrashtachari No 1' comment has drawn a lot of flak. (Source: India Today)
I wouldn’t be exagerrating if I say that India’s youth looks up to political leaders as their role models — we often imbibe their qualities, good or bad.
When a political leader, of a stature as high as that of Narendra Modi, calls out a deceased Prime Minister thus, one can only wonder what impact it can possibly have on the minds of young, impressionable kids.
Of course, Modi’s ‘Bhrashtachari No 1’ comment got a lot of flak. That was when the same old ‘whataboutery’ ensued on social media. Tejasvi Surya, the next-generation leader of the BJP, robustly defended the PM’s comments.
It is okay to label a patriot like Savarkar as traitor even after his death. It passes off as intellectual & classyBut its not okay to call Rajiv Gandhi 'Brashtachari No.1' even in face of insurmountable evidence pointing to his guilt. It is derogatory & crass#SecularLogic— Chowkidar Tejasvi Surya (@Tejasvi_Surya) May 5, 2019
Tejasvi highlighted how calling Veer Savarkar a 'traitor' after his death is often tolerated, but Modi calling Rajiv Gandhi 'corrupt' is frowned upon. Well, guess what, Tejasvi — two wrongs don’t make a right. Also, it doesn’t matter how much evidence of corruption there may or may not be against Rajiv Gandhi — the bottomline is, he is not here to defend himself amidst the allegations. And neither is Savarkar.
One can only wonder then — have we run out of politicians in India that are worthy of being at the receiving end of such serious allegations? Is there such a dearth of bad netas that we have to go after the dead ones to make a point? Also, whatever happened to upholding the ideals of our democracy? Whatever happened to maintaining the dignity of the electoral process? Whatever happened to drawing a line and saying — ok, that's the lowest, let's not cross that. Please.
Do we really need to target him? The late Rajiv Gandhi was the subject of PM Modi's recent remarks. (Source: India Today)
What if, in the future, a Prime Minister of our country makes similar distasteful remarks about, say, Narendra Modi? Is that really the kind of legacy you want to leave behind, respected PM?
Amidst all the below-the-belt hits, Rahul Gandhi’s response was a breath of fresh air. Instead of lashing out and using the choicest words to target the PM, Rahul sent 'love and hugs' to him. Even for critics of RaGa, this response seemed gracious, bringing the discourse back to the level where it ideally should be.
Modi Ji,The battle is over. Your Karma awaits you. Projecting your inner beliefs about yourself onto my father won’t protect you. All my love and a huge hug. Rahul— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 5, 2019
All in all, such remarks are indicative of a shocking fall in public discourse. This is certainly one fraught election — but going after someone who is no more is a new low, even for our already deteriorated political scenario.
At this point, all we can do is hope.
Let's hope our leaders understand this much — Prime Ministers will come and Prime Ministers will go. But their words, and the lessons therein, will stay. They will influence many young minds. And they will either teach them to show others dignity and respect — or to do, and then expect, the opposite.