When the campaign for Gujarat reached its final leg, the verbal battle between the chief rivals, the Congress and the BJP, came to its climax, as is natural for any keenly contested election.
But the words and language used by Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi were totally unbecoming of a man occupying the office of prime minister. He has been seen to use words that came to his tongue like a street politician forgetting the fact that he is the prime minister of a democratic country. It leads to a compelling observation that at the final stage of electional propaganda, Narendra Modi has behaved in a manner that damages democratic culture and respect to constitutional posts.
One of the allegations he raised was that the Congress was trying to make Ahmed Patel the chief minister with the support of Pakistan. Through this, the prime minister was using a multi-edged weapon. Before he became prime minister, Narendra Modi used to speak at election rallies mentioning Parvez Musharraf and Pakistani leaders by name and threatening them. Since threatening Muslims directly would constitute breach of electoral code of conduct, he tried to evoke images like Pakistan and Parvez Musharraf to instil anti-Muslim sentiments and thus to mobilize majority community votes. The new verbiage linking Ahmed Patel is to be seen as a continuation of the same sequence. Ahmed Patel is the leader of the Congress in Gujarat, but his party has never declared him as its chief ministerial candidate. But the BJP has been widely spreading the propaganda that if Congress wins the election, Ahmed Patel will become the chief minister. In other words, the BJP is giving a message to the majority of the Hindu voters that if BJP loses, a Muslim is going to be the chief minister of the state.
Going a step further, what the prime minister alleged was that in order to make Patel the chief minister, the Congress was collaborating with Pakistan. Through this, the BJP is implementing a scheme of winning votes by further communalizing an already polarized Gujarat for which they invoke symbols like Pakistan and Muslim. And when Rahul Gandhi was elected to be Congress president, Modi called that election 'Aurangazeb Raj'. It was another communal message that Modi transmitted through this.
The evidence cited by Modi at the election rally last Sunday as evidence of the Congress-Pakistan plan to tilt the Gujarat poll result, was the dinner hosted by former diplomat and Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar at his residence. That was a dinner at which dignitaries including former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former chief of army Deepak Kapoor, former foreign affairs minister Natwar Singh, and several diplomats were present. And it was portrayed as a secret meeting to influence Gujarat elections. The shocking part of it all is that it is a person occupying the prime ministerial office that is leading such substandard blitz.
An otherwise suave Manmohan Singh was found to use strong language in reacting to the prime minister. Alleging that Modi was spreading pure lies for political gains, he asked the prime minister to apologize to the nation, as he was degrading the dignity of the constitutional office of PM. There are indications that in the Gujarat elections BJP fear defeat, and naturally they will have to offer a stiff competition and raise criticisms. But it is an unbearable sight to see the occupant of the PM's chair raising false allegations and behaving like a street politician. This only gives credence to the criticism that the Sangh parivar have the scantest respect for constitutional positions. One wonders wherever they would lead this country.