By Sushil Kutty
The knives are out for polarizing politicians. Election Commission knives. Politicians dividing the electorate along communal lines are being punished. Of course, this courage came only after the Supreme Court of India dropped in with energy and more. The top court noted that India’s poll panel is bereft of basic powers to muzzle divisive voices and the EC got its Boost and Bournvita and placed temporary campaign bans on a clutch of the divisive politician. Then, again, the temporary campaign bans on Yogi Adityanath, Mayawati, Maneka Gandhi and Azam Khan have not shut them up. It’s difficult when there’s television and social media to give them coverage and more.
Mayawati, banned for 48 hours, held a televised presser to protest the violation of her fundamental rights, “as given to all citizens by BR Ambedkar”, the rights of mobility and freedom of expression. As an antidote, she promised (read threat) to teach EC officials a lesson when she ascends the PM’s chair. This is getting to be a habit, the revenge and will avenge threat. Samajwadi Party rabble-rouser Azam Khan and BJP politician Maneka Gandhi have similar “teach a lesson” ambitions. It seems vindictiveness is a qualification and politicians are not beyond using it as a weapon choice to be elected to power.
The Supreme Court noticed the EC’s trouble walking its role and it pulled up the poll panel EC for “dragging its feet”, not taking action against divisive politicians. While on the question of EC’s diabetic foot, is the Election Commission Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lackey? Is it turning a blind eye on poll code violations by Modi and Amit Shah? Mayawati thinks so. The Congress also. TDP boss Chandrababu Naidu is convinced compromised EVMs have him locked out of power in Andhra Pradesh, which saw polling in the first-phase, April 11. CJI Ranjan Gogoi says the EC has “woken up to its role and no further action is required”. Opposition parties have a different point of view and so will sections of the electorate.
BJP politician Maneka Gandhi’s anti-Muslim rant and Azam Khan sexual innuendo-laced remarks against a BJP rival hit high octaves. Azam Khan, contesting from Rampur in Uttar Pradesh, made a lewd khaki-coloured comment against BJP rival Jayapradha. The National Commission for Women issued notice to Khan. That worthy said he did not commit zilch. Azam Khan considers himself Rampur’s son. But Rampur’s name to fame is the Rampuriya knife. Cutting-edge technology that dates back centuries. Azam Khan might have cut into forbidden turf because Rampur is Muslim-majority constituency. And Jayapradha is a two-time Rampur MP with influence among voters.
Post-slur khaki, Jayapradha, in her atrocious Hindi, promised to teach Azam Khan a lesson. She’s pissed off that Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav allowed Azam Khan to muddy her clothes. The Samajwadi Party is quite okay with Azam Khan’s khaki-coloured description of Jayapradha’s underclothes. Azam Khan made the sexist remark in the presence of Akhliesh Yadav and Akhilesh’s only affinity with the ‘bi’ is the party symbol ‘bicycle’; he is not moved by ‘bi’ in bi-gender. Hardly thawed by EC’s restrictions, Azam Khan is going around telling supporters not to be scared of “collector-vollectors”, that he’ll get Mayawati to make such “salaried sort” wipe shoes. Appears like Azam Khan is eyeing Dalit votes and ‘Maya’ is password to open sesame Dalit Vote-bank.
Mayawati herself has been victim of Samajwadi Party machismo, having been cornered and gheraoed in what is known as the ‘Guesthouse Khand.’ But the times, they have a changed. Today, Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav are on the same side and Mayawati is angling to become Prime Minister. The SP-BSP pact is an equal partnership but whichever party gets more seats will be the one calling the shots. The SP cannot be trusted, though. Once before Mulayam Singh Yadav had landed at Sonia Gandhi’s door to bail UPA out of trouble. 2019, Mulayam and son Akhilesh might repeat the feat and land up at Rahul Gandhi’s door post-poll, leaving Mayawati by the roadside. The Samajwadi Party is known to go astray and Mayawati must have factored in such errors when tying the rakhi.
The Samajwadi Party is known to go astray, but Azam Khan is not alone in the subversion of electoral norms. BJP candidate from Sultanpur Maneka Gandhi is no less a politician going berserk, allegedly “blackmailing” Muslim voters of Sultanpur with threats that she’ll see to it they did not get government jobs and government favours if they do not vote for her. Not satisfied with that alone, she followed it up with dividing Sultanpur’s electorate into villages and the villages into groups A, B, C and D. ‘A’ will be those where 80% voted for her; ‘B’ those where 60% voted her; ‘C’ where 40% voted her and ‘D’ where less than 40% voted Maneka Gandhi. Group ‘A’ villages will get her 100% help post-poll, which she “will win for sure”. Group ‘B’ villages will 60% help. Group ‘C’ 40% of her help and Group ‘D’ none at all!
What do you with such candidates? Defeat them, of course. Imagine the ‘Sansad’ setting out to an ‘A’ village all smiles and largesse and her cavalcade passing by Group ‘D’ villages not caring to know their woes, not even thinking that in every milieu there are those who vote for and those who vote against. That is the whole idea of democracy and Maneka Gandhi is setting and foisting her own rules of democracy, which in an electoral democracy disqualifies her from being part of the electoral process. Period. Such people are the ones who nurture and sustain vote-banks. It reminds us of BR Ambedkar calling for a separate Dalit electorate and Mahatma Gandhi opposing the call. Maneka surely has not read history and for her “liberty and fraternity” are alien. It seems a lot of Sanjay Gandhi’s philosophy has rubbed on her but this “groupism” would sound preposterous even to him. Son Varun Gandhi should sit Mummy Maneka down and ask what her intentions are?
While on intentions, Yogi Adityanath’s were never in doubt. The Yogi is not khaki, he’s saffron personified. And if there are cattle rampaging and ravaging standing crops in Western Uttar Pradesh and other places east, it’s because the Yogi loves the cow like only a ‘gaurakshak’ can. The Yogi is also good at picking up English and Hindi words to state his case, which is to divide and divide the electorate along green and saffron lines. ‘Green Virus’ and ‘Ali-Bajrangibali’ will go down in the electoral history of Bharat Desh in no uncertain terms. The EC slapped a 72-hour ban on Yogi campaigning but with television around there’s no stopping Yogi Adityanath from reading the Hanuman Challisa to send a subtle message to the Election Commission and the Supreme Court!
Mayawati took her grudge against the EC to the Supreme Court and the apex court told her to stick to ban. The top court in fact broke her heart and calculations. It praised the Election Commission for coming out of its stupor and acting against communally-divided politicians. But, what about Namo TV and the Narendra Modi biopic. Namo TV continues to telecast Namo alone and the Namo biopic will get a special screening for EC officials, courtesy the Supreme Court. Will the officials show the same courage they displayed against Maya, Maneka, Yogi and Azam and ban it for being capable of influencing voters or will they watch Namo on screen and declare Narendra Modi a blockbuster hit! (IPA Service)