When our opponents go low, we will go lower – this unfortunately seems to be the cherished motto nowadays. This is particularly true when it comes to political discourse, be it inside the parliament or outside, in our offices or homes, in public or private, MSM or SM – we as a society seem to be fighting to cater to the lowest common denominator.
When the one-time actress and now part-time Social Media trumpeter for the Congress equated Mr. Modi to a bird-dropping (when he was photographed standing near the gigantic feet of the gargantuan Bronze statue of the Sardar), I was one of the first to condemn the comment (as did many) despite the ululations of the Leftists about free speech and the associated trope. It was then (as it is now) not just about Modi but rather about the post of the Prime Minister. The PM does not belong to just the party in power but he and his government represent the people – those that voted for him and those that didn’t, those who like him and those that don’t.
I have observed that PM Modi seems to toggle a switch – when in parliament, when in an interview, when he is on a foreign trip he is the consummate diplomat – all-embracing, middle-ground, conciliatory, leader of a country. When he is on an election campaign the switch is toggled again and we have a different person – the street-fighter who will give better than he gets, the bare-knuckled fighter who will swing his roundhouses from his shoulder – but this is simply not done – no matter where he stands, he remains the PM of the country and he shall remain so till the time the next dispensation is sworn in.
The ongoing election will probably go down in history as one of those that saw candidates at their worst – in terms of behavior and discourse. It is a fact that Rahul Gandhi has lowered the level of political discourse but that does not mean that the PM, particularly someone like Mr. Modi must resort to the same kind of meaningless rhetoric. Without mincing words I must say that him dragging Rahul’s long-dead father into the mud-slinging match that he has needlessly indulged in, reflects poorly not only on him but also on the post of the PM of a country – it is the latter constitutional position that is being shred to tatters.
What is also shocking is the support that the Social Media Bandwagon (paid and unpaid) along with the Troll-army of both sides has been giving to this kind of uncouth behavior. I was particularly shocked to see the defense mounted by what I consider(ed) sane voices in the Social Media – the insanity of the elections seems to have affected everyone. I even saw a post by one SM-trumpeter (a woman) who was making out the case that Rajiv got what he deserved – this is such nonsense – all said and done he was the PM of our country – he was one of us and he was killed by a foreign terrorist – how can you justify that?
The glee with which some sections of the SM received the news of Arvind Kejriwal getting publicly slapped is another case in point.
- When will we understand that it is never about the person but about what is at stake?
- When will we ever realize that we cannot be chameleons who will change our stand based on the individual involved? These very same people were all over SM abusing the other side when the PMs mother/wife were dragged into the controversy – how can it be wrong then and right now?
- When will we realize that we are being “played” by all sides and we are mere pawns being pushed around into squares not of our own volition?
As T.N. Seshan once observed – the electorate behaves like “dumb-driven-cattle” – he was right then and he is right now. We could use the same phrase to describe those in the SM-space as well.
We may be changing, we may be becoming a super-power and all that but we are definitely not changing for the better…