In a welcome step, the Election Commission of India on Wednesday barred Gujarat unit of BJP from using the word ‘pappu’ in their ad campaign. “Pappu” which is perceived as a slur to target Congress VP Rahul Gandhi was termed as derogatory by the commission. The EC direction was probably the first of its kind aimed to curb the use of derogatory language in an election campaign. But the poll body might have a really long road to go. The use of slurs like fenku, shehzada, used for top politicians in the official campaign tools of parties is becoming a day by day event and it is progressively turning worse. The terminology not only hurts the decorum of public debates but is also in contrast to country’s political ambience. More worrysome is the trend of being used in places of higher public importance, for example, the word ‘Pappu’ has been surfaced in Lok Sabha at least twice. During a debate last year, Venkaiah Naidu said ‘pappu ji baith jaiye’ (Pappu Ji, please sit down) exactly after Rahul Gandhi was shouting something on an ongoing debate. However, MP Pappu Yadav was also present in the House at the moment. People were left wondering if the remarks were intended for Gandhi. One such incident happened when BJP MP Anurag Thakur said “Kal ko log bolenge, hamare Pappu ko samajh nhi aya.” (Tomorrow, these people will say their Pappu didn’t understand, Pappu Yadav ji is sitting here). To this, MP Pappu Yadav stood up and said, “mere naam ka galat istemaal hua hai.” (My name has been wrongly used)
Similarly, word ‘feku’ has now been used for long by rivals to target PM Modi. In fact, Gandhi himself admitted to this recently and asked his partymen not to use such language for the prime minister. “Modi may say anything about us, but we will not indulge in any loose talks about him and maintain the decorum of the office of prime minister,” Gandhi had recently said. However, the Congress boss here must admit that the term feku for Modi was indeed played up by his party only. Congress’ entire 2012 poll campaign was designed around the term to give out an impression that Modi’s Gujarat development is indeed a farce. The poll song “Oh Bhai Fenku, Bhajap Che Fenku, Congress ave Che nikal Bhai Fenku,” was prominently played on national television.
If Congress is a culprit here, we also have some examples where our prime minister has used such words to refer to his rivals. During a campaign rally in 2014, Modi had used the term ‘AK 49’ in an apparent reference to Kejriwal. Modi had said that three AKs – AK-47, AK Antony and AK-49 are helping Pakistan. “And, the third AK is AK-49 who has just given birth to a new party”— a reference to Kejriwal’s 49-day stint in Delhi. Later, in a BJP poll advertisement for Assembly Elections, Kejriwal was described as Andolankari and one with Upadhravi Gotra. The campaign, which drew massive criticism, even targeted Kejriwal for swearing in the name of his kids. Well, not to spare him either, Delhi Chief Minister later used the words “a shameless dictator” and psychopath for the prime minister on separate occasions. What is more, this discourse happened when it was not a part of any poll agenda.
Watch | Anurag Thakur using word Pappu in parliament
Lately, Modi and Gandhi have refrained from using such language in public speeches, however, there’s no denying the fact that both the parties have tacitly developed a cadre of politicians who hit below the belt and get away with it. With such tactics, these politicians not only hog the limelight but also say things in public which the party can’t. In Congress, the charge is taken by Digvijay Singh, while Subhramanian Swamy does same for the BJP.
The worst outcome of the same that pushes the core agenda of election – development, jobs, law and order to backlog – making the mockery of the entire campaign culture and leaving behind distasteful examples that forever remain as a blot on Indian politics.