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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 21 New Delhi May 11, 2019

Murkier Poll Campaign, Frightening Prospects

Tuesday 14 May 2019, by SC

EDITORIAL

As the parliamentary elections for the 17th Lok Sabha are drawing to a close within a few days, the election campaign is becoming increasingly murkier.

One has just returned from a fleeting visit to Lucknow but even in the short span of one’s stay in UP one was able to clearly discern the public urge for a change from the BJP dominating the State to the SP-BSP mahagathbandhan; and experienced observers of the electoral scene disclosed that the BJP would suffer considerable reverses in the State. Yet only yesterday the PM asserted that he was reasonably certain of the BJP improving upon its 2014 tally (when it won on its own 73 of the State’s 80 seats). The extraordinary overconfidence that Modi exuded while speaking to select sections of the media before the BJP rally in the Capital last evening was doubtless striking to say the least; but eventually it turned out to be nothing more than bluster on his part.

However, what is also true is that the lengths to which the PM is going to assail a deceased PM (Rajiv Gandhi) on how he spent his vacation in December 1987 at INS Viraat, the country’s premier warship, in order to paint him as the “most corrupt PM number one” who used the Viraat as a “personal taxi” have caused consternation in several circles including the Naval community. The former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral L. Ramdas (retired), unequivocally refuted the allegation that Rajiv used the warship for a personal cruise.

The question is: why is Modi doing so? The answer is that this too is a sign of desperation on his part. That may well be the case; but is he not able to comprehend that in the process he is bringing down the stature of the PM before the nation and the world? This is a serious matter calling for self-introspection by the BJP leadership.

Meanwhile two incidents in the East Delhi consti-tuency of the Capital have attracted attention. The discovery of the carcasses of two cows in the area has evoked anxiety over the possibility of a fresh outbreak of communal violence. At the same time the circulation of a leaflet against the AAP candidate there, Atishi, has culminated in the AAP and BJP trading charges against each other. The leaflet apparently carried certain disparaging innuendos against Atishi and the AAP attributed the publication to Atishi’s BJP rival, cricket star Gautam Gambhir, who not only strongly rejected the allegation but also threatened to quit everything including politics in the backdrop of the accusation. Such incidents reveal the extent to which politics has sunk in the attempt to win the polls. This indeed reflects the gutter-level discourse currently prevailing in the country.

Meanwhile the remaining phases of elections in West Bengal, which already witnessed some measure of violence, could lead to more bloodshed. But from available indications it appears that the BJP would not be able to make up its losses in UP through its anticipated gains in West Bengal.

Nevertheless, the issue of manipulation of the EVMs cannot be overlooked. Large numbers of EVMs have already been found to be missing. Herein lies the problem. Due to the do or die battle on both sides this problem has assumed a frightening dimension of late.

May 9 S.C. 

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