The 2014 general elections are coming to an end. On May 16, we shall come to know whose efforts have been rewarded. But by all standards, this has been an election which has redefined how low the  politicians can stoop to hit their counterparts. Instead of debates what we have seen is leaders heaping abuse on each other. It seems that they are taking part in a no holds barred contest, where the dirtier the muck the better it is.

This election has seen the 24x7 electronic media lap up all the low barbs by the leaders. They have magnified these into endless debates, repeatedly telecast to garner as many TRP's as possible. Social media has also been skillfully manipulated to further the low agendas set by some leaders and parties.

In past elections also, there have been personal attacks, but rarely below the belt. Leaders respected the private life of opponents and desisted from mentioning or commenting on them. However this time around this self imposed code of good behaviour has been given a go bye. Another introduction has been name calling which have been used as a force multiplier by social media.

Another phenomenon has been the open threats of different types  to those who will oppose a particular leader or ideology, including deportation to a neighbouring country not well deposed to India. Another leader said supporters of a particular leader should be drowned in the sea. Someone said, the time for revenge has come and yet someone said that, those who liberated Kargil were of a particular community only. Every low barb has to be replied by a still lower barb.

It is said, the fact that elections are spread over nine phases makes it difficult for the leaders to sustain the voters attention. The fatigued politicians have to come up with new issues and the easiest is raking up of personal issues. The media also wants masala and it is well known that negative news sells far more than positive news.

Would a debate on how to increase India's GDP be more interesting or discussion on how a leader of a certain party called the leader of another party  a particular variety of four legged creature. How many viewers would watch full time a discussion on need to improve India's social parameters. But the same viewers would sit throughout if the debate were on the marriage status of a particular leader. Therefore the media especially the electronic one wants the leaders to say nasty things so that they can run endless stories on it.

The issue of secularism and communalism was mercilessly flogged for some weeks before it ran out of steam. At the end we were not sure who was secular and who was communal. Sensing this lack of attention, the leaders started attacking their rivals on personal issues. This has sustained attention and is the current flavour. A leader makes the personal attack leaving the attacked leader no option but to respond in a like manner. 

No issue is left out. Caste, creed, religion, region, language, nationality, funding, length of processions, number of vehicles, are all constantly attacked in the choicest of words. Name calling and personal attacks have been liberally used in these elections.

Another technique  has been perfected. First abuse a leader or a party or an institution. Then when asked for a clarification begin by saying that " -- let me tell you I have the  highest regard for the ---- and start repeating the abuse.  Everyday almost every one worth his political salt is running to the Election Commission with a complaint. The EC mulls over them and either issues a stern warning or asks for an FIR to be registered. This does not deter the erring politicians from continuing their negative tirade. In fact many leaders have even challenged the EC to take action against themselves.

In this age of connectivity, the politicians seem to think that speaking dirty is one way of remaining in news, as it will be picked up by the TV channels and telecast repeatedly. Another low comment will be made for the next day. The intention is to remain in the viewers' focus even if it is for negative remarks. 

It is good that the elections are coming to an end. One hopes people will force the leaders to retrospect about the new low the campaigning this time has touched. Must votes be got by polarizing and dividing or appealing to the voters on developmental issues. Already the image of the politicians is at a nadir and they must now start improving it. 


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