The political air of the country has lately been thick with choice invectives hurled back and forth among leaders. Congress president Sonia Gandhi poured scorn on Prime Minister rendra Modi for being a hawabaaz with his ‘airy-fairy talk about acche din’. The Prime Minister hit right back, saying that his government’s tough stand against black money has sent the hawalabaaz or scamsters scurrying for cover. Racking up the slanging match by another notch, the Congress is now calling Modi a jumlebaaz and dagabaaz for ‘making empty promises and betraying the people’. The BJP is certain to come up with a crushing rejoinder in the coming days, but the rancour between the two major parties is giving politics in India a bad me. It is the lingering bitter after-taste of the Parliament’s monsoon session which was washed away so shamefully. Thanks to Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha TV channels, the entire country got to watch the disgraceful spectacle of MPs shouting each other down, rushing into the well of the House, sloganeering and jostling, turning their backs to legislative work and costing the exchequer dear. In the meantime, the looming Bihar election has added a heavy dose of spice to the verbal jousting.
On the campaign trail recently, rendra Modi gave his spin to Laloo Prasad’s bygone RJD regime as roja jungle-raj ka darr which had ‘brought chaos to Bihar’. Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) also got the Modi treatment as jata ka daman-utpidan, supposedly a government ‘suppressing and oppressing the people’. Turning the screw further, Modi then announced a Rs 1.25 lakh crore package because Bihar is still languishing as a ‘BIMARU’ state, even as he raised doubts about Nitish Kumar’s ‘political D’ for forsaking former ally BJP and tying up with arch-foe Laloo Prasad instead. A livid Nitish retaliated with a swabhiman rally because ‘Bihar’s self-respect has been hurt’, demanded that Modi should withdraw his offending words (shabd wapsi) and threatened that at least 50 lakh Bihari people will soon ‘send their D samples to the Prime Minister for testing’. The question arises — is the political discourse descending into shrill me-calling and downright triviality because the stakes are now so high? With elections costing so heavily, candidates have to make an all-out bid for winning because only that can help return the money power taken from interested quarters during campaigning. If decency and respect for political opponents fall by the wayside in this mad scramble, then so be it! As for the nearly extinct political wit, one cannot but miss delicious parliamentary exchanges like the one between our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru trying to make light of Chinese annexation of Aksai Chin as a barren area where ‘not a blade of grass grows’, and senior Congressman Mahavir Tyagi pointing to his bald pate to retort: “Nothing grows here either... should it be cut off or given away to somebody else?”. Even Nehru dissolved into the uproarious laughter that shook up the House.