T he war of words in full swing the other day between Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the spirited run-up to the Karnataka Assembly polls is in very bad taste. It all started with Gandhi challenging Modi to allow him 15 minutes of talk in the Lok Sabha. He said if he were allowed to do so, Modi would not be able to stand up to face him. What followed was Modi swiping at the Congress president in full gusto, wondering whether the latter could speak anything at all without a written note (dictated by others). What both the leaders have conveniently overlooked is the aspiration of a developed State like Karnataka. Its youth have higher aspirations than those in many other States. It is home to a developed city like Bengaluru, the IT capital of the country. What was forgotten was the basket of far more pressing issues, such as farmers’ suicide, education and healthcare. What was not in the reckoning was ‘India on the rise’, with the youth of Karnataka holding very high promise. What was trampled over was aspiration itself. This is a very unhealthy sign for a democracy trying to evolve the right way. Whither the agenda of development?