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The prime minister and an umbrella

When a ruling political party has nothing to cite as meritorious governance, its propensity to go after opposition leaders with personal attack and insult, will go down as the lowest form of party politics. Even though there are people who practise this in national and state politics, the Sangh Parivar parties are at the forefront of it in national politics, as current experience would testify. This is how the pappu image of Rahul Gandhi was created. However, when it comes to themselves being lampooned, the Sangh Parivar would tolerate none of it. .They will go whole hog to cyber-lynch the 'accused' who criticise the Prime Minister and take them to court. They have no qualms either about making malicious accusations against their opponents. Lately, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has been found to resort to a form of personal ridicule and criticism. A specimen of this was the jibe he made while speaking at a BJP rally in Belagavi, Karnataka. He said, "I was sad looking at how Kharge was treated during the Congress' session. The weather was hot, but the good fortune of umbrella's shade was not there for Kharge . The umbrella's shade was for someone standing next to him."

Modi was in effect laughing at a security guard holding an umbrella for former Congress president Sonia Gandhi who has been ailing, but disregarding medical advice to avoid exposing herself to sun and dust, stood there just out of her commitment to the party. It was not an average citizen mocking the common human decency shown to such a person, but the Prime Minister who runs the country. No wonder Congress spokesperson Supriya Sreenate reacted sharply to Modi's remark. The Congress' response was that when Modi said this about Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, he was belittling the people who elected the Karnataka leader to various legislatures for the past half century. Narendra Modi can criticize, and even make fun of the opposition party, Congress. However, it should be remembered that the content and tone used will determine its quality and appropriateness. It is one thing when the Prime Minister says anything to oppose the policies of the Congress, but quite another when he ridicules the Congress leadership using the 'cover' of a canopy. Criticism of anything related to Congress with reference to a family would hardly make healthy debate in a democracy. True, the dynastic dominance in Congress can be subject to reproach. But a prime minister needs something substantive too to hold an opposition party to account. Add to it the refrain of the BJP leadership, including Modi himself, with cryptic phrases and sarcasm of a less than dignified kind while characterising Congress leadership and the Gandhi-Nehru family.

It is known to be common practice for National Security Guards to have on hand an umbrella in the rain and hot weather when accompanying leaders. The Congress criticized - and it had a point there - the Prime Minister's speech as one that lowered the dignity of the position he was holding when there was nothing unusual about that NSG umbrella. This is an example of Modi latching on to that weapon to berate political opponents. This goes in sharp contrast with his silence even when key issues are under discussion in and outside parliament. But, he is invoking the umbrella not merely out of aversion for the Nehru family legacy, but also with an eye on the vote bank in Karnataka, where assembly elections are due in May. Modi is trying to make it appear that Congress has neglected Karnataka. The BJP and the prime minister seem to make a case that the Congress did not give due honour to leaders from Veerendra Patil and Nijalingappa in the past and now to Kharge, who has seniority and fifty years of parliamentary experience. By implication, the Prime Minister perhaps is trying to convince the electorate that the BJP is giving due attention to Karnataka while the Congress has ditched it. By pretending to sympathize with Kharge, a leader who emerged from the Dalit community, he may also be targeting the sympathy of Karnataka's sizeable Dalit community.

For background withint he state, the current BJP government in Karnataka came into beingoriginally by toppling the 2018 JD(S)-Congress alliance when it was just 14 months into office. Later in 2021, Basavaraj Bommai was anointed as the Chief Minister, by removing Yeddiyurappa, but the lack-lustre Bommai government is suffering from a loss of image and anti-incumbency factor. Therefore, the party and the leadership are making unsuccessful attempts to hide their lack of confidence through such wily tactics. Given this situation, the only star campaigner, Narendra Modi has been fielded to capture the prestigious state which the BJP sees as its gateway to South India. But what a political bankruptcy that he also needs the umbrella of the Congress to protect him!

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TAGS:Narendra ModiSonia GandhiNeglectding KarnatakaVeerendra PatilNijalingappaumbrella for SoniaKharge under the sunBelagavi BJP rally
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