2019 general elections: Campaign plumbs new low

Chennai: With just two phases of polling left in the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections, campaigning has reached fever pitch. And, surprisingly, it has touched a new low with both major political parties indulging in personal abuses and trying to appeal to voters along religious lines, which is against the Model Code of Conduct.

As the five phases of polling have been completed and elections are due in just 100-odd seats, campaigning has now taken an ugly turn, say political observers.

Complaints were filed by the Congress and BJP with the Election Commission (EC) on issues being addressed in campaigning and eventually EC has to step in to check and give a clean chit wherever necessary.

The BJP’s narrative is clear. They want to rely heavily on ‘nationalism’. And the Congress is trying hard to shift the narrative from nationalism to the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government in implementing Centrally-sponsored welfare schemes in the last five years.

However, in the attempt to do so, they have only fallen behind, political pundits feel.

All hell broke loose when Modi, addressing a public rally, said, ‘Rajiv Gandi was corrupt No 1.’

It left Congress disgruntled and they knocked on the doors of the EC. The issue snowballed into a major crisis with the Congress hurling abuses on a few BJP leaders.

Acting on complaint against Modi over ‘Bhrashtachari No. 1’ remark against Rajiv Gandhi, the EC declared that prima facie, they did not figure out any literal violation of the code of conduct and disposed of the case.

The EC has received 46 complaints, of which 40 have been disposed of and another six are still under consideration.

Of the total complaints, 29 were against BJP leaders, 13 against Congress leaders, two against  Samajwadi Party leaders and one each against the TRS and BSP.

Speaking to News Today, a senior TNCC functionary said, “There was rampant violation by Modi. His appeal to first-time voters by invoking the Balakot airstrike and BJP chief Amit Shah’s remarks are classic examples. They have not spoken a word about Acche Din or Vikas. The BJP is involved a blame-game and is indulging in negative politics. They are trying to divert attention from real issues by launching personal attacks against the Congress leadership.”

For their part, BJP sympathisers say, “The Supreme Court did ask Rahul Gandhi to apologise for his remarks on the SC having declared that there was corruption in the Rafale deal and that Modi had given Anil Ambani a Rs 30,000 crore contract. It did so only after BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi filed a criminal complaint against Rahul Gandhi before it. They are acting on incendiary speeches. Remember at a rally in Kerala, a Congress worker wanted Modi to be killed and dared to even sponsor the same.”

The campaign bans against Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Union Minister Maneka  Gandhi, BSP chief Mayawati, BJP candidate from Bhopal Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur and SP leader  Azam Khan relating to violations of campaign rules that prohibit soliciting votes on the basis of religion shows how the campaigning has taken a downturn in the recent past.