The stars couldn’t be worse for parliamentary debate and political language in general.Narendra Modi is like a frog sneered Salman Khurshid, Salman Khurshid is a cockroach, screamed the BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi, Modi is a “gangu teli” snapped Ghulam Nabi Azad in an atrocious display of casteism.Modi has already called Sonia Gandhi “pasta ben” and Rahul Gandhi "a jersey cow”, Manmohan Singh has been called a “shikhandi” by Yashwant Sinha, the PM has also been called “nikamma” by LK Advani.Mani Shankar Aiyar’s rudeness is a staple on prime time and who can forget Sonia Gandhi’s epithet “maut ka saudagar” for Modi.Today, because the political spectrum has narrowed so drastically the only way the parties are able to distinguish between each other is through personal adjectives like “nikamma”, “cockroach” “strong”, “weak”, “decisive” or “non- decisive”, adjectives which are devoid of any ideological underpinnings and are simply personal epithets.”Today none of the major political parties would like to take a stand as either “communist” or “capitalist” or “pro-reservation” or “anti- reservation” or “pro FSB” or “anti FSB” or “pro- talks with Pakistan” or “anti- talks with Pakistan”.Instead, every party is competing to be everything, and every party sounds the same on every basic issue.Video killed the radio star, goes the 70s hit song.In India, the tune can be put to the words: democracy killed the political debating star.
Here too every political party is rushing to outdo the other in hyper patriotism.If they said for example: India cannot afford the Food Security Bill, the Bill will nationalise agriculture and destroy the agricultural market, the Bill will make the government the main buyer of the farmers produce, the bill will bring back mass garibi, the proud Indian farmer will be reduced to a beggar.A Right-wing attack on the Bill would be to thunder that such a supreme act of condescension on India’s farmers, these acts born out of apparently charitable noblesse oblige, robs the farmer of his dignity.If the UPA inclines towards a “peacenik” constituency then there should be a real debate in parliament between say Salman Khurshid and Yashwant Sinha on why we should talk to Pakistan and why we should not. Does he believe in reservations in government jobs, in private sector, or does he, for example endorse the Supreme Court’s recent order striking down quotas for faculty in super speciality posts?Once again that would be a real debate on a substantive point of ideological divergence, instead of each party bandying about labels of “traitor” and “anti national”. Modi’s middle class upper caste urban voters are likely to be opposed to quotas but is Modi free to voice an anti- quota line in public? What about those in the Congress known to be pro- free market like Chidambaram?