By Arré Bench Nov. 22, 2017
"Yes, I sold tea, but didn't sell the nation" Modi replied to Congress' “chaiwala” jibe. The only rule of name-calling in Indian politics is that there are no rules.
The world of Twitter, home to terms like “libtard”, “Moditard”, and “Aaptard”, hit a new low when the official handle of the Youth Congress posted a meme taking a crass, classist, and casteist jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The latest chaiwala jibe is not only derogatory and in extremely poor taste, but it also speaks volumes about the genius strategists within the Congress party. The last time they called him that, he ended up becoming the PM, so what could possibly go wrong?
The older I grow, the more like a schoolyard I feel our political landscape is becoming. Just last week, the EC was forced to stop the BJP from using Rahul Gandhi’s unofficial nickname, “Pappu”, in the Gujarat election campaign.
In school, your first exposure to name-calling was when you started teasing each other with words like motu, sukhda, lambu, tingu. Or it could have been a spin on your name, which was Harpic in my case (that turned into Hard-disk and eventually Hard Dick, as I grew older). When you didn’t have a comeback you’d respond to “kutta” with a “Tu kutta”. In your early teens, you got a bit more creative and picked on personality traits. The stingy one became “kanjoos”; the lazy one “kumbhakarna”. It was all in jest, and then you grew up and the childish insults ceased.
Unfortunately, political discourse in our country didn’t get the memo. In the last few years, Sonia Gandhi has called Modi Maut ka Saudagar, the PM has referred to Arvind Kejriwal as AK49, Kejriwal called the Prime Minister a psychopath, LK Advani called Manmohan Singh a nikamma, and Manmohan Singh… well, he never really spoke much, did he?
Every time Azam Khan opens his mouth, people involved in other controversies take a sigh of relief.
Clearly, the politicians don’t want to mend their ways. They don’t want to stop the name-calling or the complaining. Like cry babies, they turn to mummy (the EC) each time they face any abuse. And the poll body, already burdened with the responsibility of conducting free and fair elections in the largest democracy in the world, has to keep other petty issues on the side as they arbitrate on really important issues such as, “Is it offensive to use the word Pappu?”
The only rule of name-calling in Indian politics is that there are no rules. Nothing is out of bounds. Whether it is an awful comment on race, religion, caste, sex, or economic background, our politicians have got it all covered. If you ever heard something awful and thought it couldn’t get worse, you will be surprised. Usain Bolt might have broken his own world records multiple times, but he is never going to be any match to Azam Khan. Every time Azam Khan opens his mouth, people involved in other controversies take a sigh of relief. Remember when he said toddlers get raped because of mobile phones?
Why discuss reforms, manifestos, and ideologies when you can get downright personal and insult people and their families? Television channels get their TRPs, politicians get their 15 seconds of fame during the election campaign, and impressionable children pick up tips for their next playground argument. All this goes on while the electorate sits on their couches, watching the shit hit the fan and thinking the exact same thing, “Can we have our votes back please?”