Restraint in propaganda
Election propaganda by different political parties has always been aggressive. But abusing and name-calling of rival political parties was avoided at least by senior party leaders. All that is changing. Even senior leaders are using language unbecoming of them. Development is supposed to be on the top of the agenda of every party. But in their poll speeches leaders rarely spell out their development programme except giving promises. The Prime Minister says ‘scam’ means Samajwadi, Congress, Akhilesh and Mayawati. The BSP supremo retorts: the Prime Minister’s initials stand for Negative Dalit Man. The Prime Minister makes innuendoes about the low voice of the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Congress Vice-President retorts that the Prime Minister’s voice is feebler than that of a mouse.
The Prime Minister at his election rally at Imphal on Saturday said the Congress in Manipur does not want to give power to the people for fear that power will enable them to listen to TV news and expose the State Government. This is cheap propaganda unworthy of a prime minister. What he said next, referring to the economic blockade mounted by the Nagas since November 1 was more astounding. “I urge the people to remove the blockade today . . . “Coming from the Prime Minister does it not amount to giving incitement to violence – to clash with the Nagas? In the highly charged up situation in Manipur, such a statement by the PM is very unfortunate, to put it euphemistically.
Most of these charges and counter-charges will be forgotten after the elections and alliances will be forged according to exigencies of the situation. The BJP and the Shiv Sena, having hurled choicest abuses at each other during the BMC polls, are now talking of making it up and coming together. The BJP has finished a close second to the Sena and unless they join hands the new Board cannot be formed. The BMC’s annual budget is for Rs. 37,000 crore. That explains why every major party is so keen to control the civic body even if it means becoming strange bedfellows. The SS and the BJP are now quite willing to forget the past and forgive whatever they said to each other during the poll campaign. Little wonder that the people – the voters – no longer care to go through the election manifestos of the political parties. They go by their behaviour and performance.
The cumulative effect of all these may in the long run, weaken the people’s faith in democracy as a system that delivers and create a situation favourable for the emergence of a strong-willed messiah who will be a law unto himself and the country. A docile and spineless media, unlike the US media, will, in all probability, have no difficulty in giving full-throated support to the messiah.