Politics Today: Macho Fighting?

So here in our country where we are all trying really hard to bring rationality and righteousness into politics, we see nothing less than a blockbuster-masala movie’s chiselled macho fight scene playing out before us. Or some would even compare it to a mindless, mean, evil TV serial catfight (with the background music, of course). Two of the most powerful competitors, Mr Modi and Mr Gandhi are calling out to each other and trying to be sassy. Sassy!

So let us see what they said, and what it implies.

What Mr Gandhi said:

“PM Modi can’t face me in Parliament, (I) dare him to a 15-minute debate. I will talk about the Rafale deal, about Nirav Modi and (Narendra) Modi just will not be able to stand there.”

To all of us who’ve been in positions of responsibility and when we have to deal with someone we absolutely cannot stand, we all know that this is what we precisely do not do in our interactions. Nobody talks in the language of dares and challenges. Nobody says that you won’t be able to stand in front of me. The tone of the language itself, more than the words, sets a precedent for the kind of response it is going to invoke.

When we want to work together, especially in a constantly watched and assessed kind of environment like the one Mr Gandhi and Mr Modi are living in, one cannot be in denial of one’s own can of worms. How hard is it to understand for you Mr Gandhi that the biggest and extremely valid argument the BJP is always going to use against you is a report of your party’s sixty years of ruling? It is like a mole that Mr Gandhi and all his successors have to live with, forever.

Although his demand for a debate was a progressive one, the packaging of words that he delivered it in was unfortunate and may have ruined the overall message of a healthy debate. Wait, did Mr Gandhi really want a debate?

What Mr. Modi said:

“How can I sit before you. Because you are a naamdaar and we are just kaamdaars (You are from a famous family and we are from the working class). We are not even able to wear decent clothes. Can small people like us dream to sit before a big person like you,” “You speak in a language of your choice. It may be English, Hindi or your mother’s mother-tongue (Italian). You speak for 15 minutes and list the achievements of Congress regime in Karnataka without a written note in hand. And spell out Bharat Ratna Vishweshwaraiah’s name five times in your speech. Then people of Karnataka will really appreciate you,”

Now, now. Do you think that a soap writer wrote this response, just like I think? I mean, full points for sass. However, there is a serious issue with this response. When Mr Modi is speaking at a rally, understandingly, he wants to please and even inspire and entertain the masses that have come to see him.

But somehow, he completely forgets that he sits in the highest seat in our country, and becomes a party member exclusively. He talks all kinds of things. He talks about whether “small people like us dream to sit with big people like you.” Spell out a name. Really? Come on, Mr. Modi. You cannot be so childish towards anyone. This sounds like the perfect teenage fight where our top leaders are hurling absolutely nonsensical insults towards each other. It all sounds beneath the dignity of your Prime Ministership, Mr Modi.

Another big issue I find with his speaking on this ‘dare’ is the kind of hypocrisy he is portraying. Normally, I understand the fact that our Prime Minister chooses not to speak on trending issues. Probably because he does not want to give them unnecessary importance, or even because he cannot keep answering all of them and making choices on ‘important’ issues.

But, when your opposition leader rants about something which you know is kind of unimportant and foolish, you go all guns blazing? How stung was your ego to do a thing like this Mr Modi? And you cannot give the excuse of ‘he started it first’. Had Mr Modi not been the Prime Minister, we’d have dismissed it long back. But when people in power and positions of responsibility lose civility, the effect only amplifies at the grass-root level.

Also, if I have not highlighted this enough already, you are the Prime Minister of our country, sir! Please try and maintain the respect that the title demands, at all times, with no exceptions whatsoever.

This exchange of insults between our most important leaders gives us an insight into the current state of our political space at the moment. When people at the top are creating such an unhealthy environment, there can be no expectations from the lowest rung. Two top leaders cannot exist in the same space denigrating each other. It kills all hopes of bipartisanship. We are not here to witness ego fights between people who are supposed to be critical of each other’s work but in a cordial manner. Don’t be personal, and most importantly don’t act like teenagers. Talk sense, and bloat your egos someplace else.

On a side note, we would love to witness a debate between you two talking purely about your plans of action, honest assessments of your own work, your critique of each other’s work, issues that need to be tackled on a priority basis and your plans for them, your plan for bipartisan projects and other meaningful debates of this kind.


Mandar Gupte, 24, is currently working in an Adivasi Community Development Organization called Disha Kendra. He tweets at @gupte_mandar and you can find him on Instagram at mandargupte93.