Is India set to witness politics of only filmy jibes, anger & vendetta?

Rohit Chandavarkar
Tuesday, 25 September 2018

This country somehow finds angry speeches very attractive. In the 1970s and then even in the 1990s and the decade after the year 2000, India’s Hindi film industry pitched the angry young man as the protagonist. Right from Amitabh Bachchan in the 1970s to Ajay Devgan in 1990s and 2000s, Bollywood sold the angry hero to the audiences and they highly succeeded. . India’s politics is now witnessing similar drama full of angry speeches and saga of vendetta which the political parties are selling to the public! The speeches often look filmy and heavily borrow jargon from Bollywood!

The attack by Congress President Rahul Gandhi against the BJP led NDA government over the French Rafale fighter aircraft deal has raised an unprecedented storm in India’s political sphere. Ironically the meaning of the French word “Rafale” is, a gust of wind or storm! What Rafale has brought to India is a political storm!

Congress President Rahul Gandhi making sustained allegations using some un-parliamentary words claiming “the Prime Minister a thief” and the BJP spokespersons then making a counter attack calling Congress president a “khandani thief” ( one who belongs to a family of thieves). All this raises the question whether politics in India ahead of the big polling season will be driven by anger, jibes and a spirit of revenge, and is becoming filmy?    

This is not the first time that the opposition in India has called the Prime Minister of the country a thief. In the late 1980s when Rajiv Gandhi had just completed about four years in office as Prime Minister the allegations over kickbacks in the Bofors deal emerged. The opposition at that time (of which BJP was also a large part) had coined a slogan “Gali Gali Main Shor Hai Rajiv Gandhi Chor Hai” and this slogan was used informally in every door to door campaign in North India (predominantly Hindi speaking belt). Obviously even before anything could be proved against Rajiv Gandhi, the opposition at that point coined this slogan, calling the Prime Minister a thief!

Today, many insiders in the Congress party informally say that when Rahul Gandhi is repeatedly using the word “thief” about the PM somewhere at the back of his mind, there is the memory of his father being maligned with un-parliamentary language by the opposition when he was the Prime Minister. So it seems that his political campaign over Rafale allegations is driven by spirit of vendetta.

In the 1970s Amitabh Bachchan played a character in blockbuster film Deewar, of an angry young man who goes through mental trauma because somebody writes the line 'my father is a thief' on his forearm and then is driven by the spirit of vendetta. Many feel that similar story of vendetta is perhaps now seen playing out on India's political landscape! In the 1970s and then in even in the 1990s India’s Hindi film industry pitched the angry young man as the protagonist. Right from Amitabh Bachchan in the 1970s to Ajay Devgan in 1990s Bollywood sold the angry hero to the audiences and they highly succeeded. People loved the hero shouting against the rich establishment and then they loved the stories based on the theme of revenge. India’s politics is now witnessing similar drama full of angry speeches and saga of vendetta which the political parties are selling to the public!   

The storm raised by allegations over Rafale deal only give an indication of how the 2019 general election campaign in the country could be a very WWF wrestling bout kind of a battle. Driven by angry speeches, jibes, allegations and generally very superficial like the National Television Channel studio debates where the main selling point is three, five or more political party shouting their lungs out every night at prime time!

When Narendra Modi took up his 2014 election campaign as BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate. He looked very angry. He shouted against the inefficiency, policy paralysis and alleged corruption inside the UPA government. He went around the country holding hundreds of public meetings and rallies looking angry and shouting against the establishment. People believed that he would solve all the problems and that created the famous “Modi wave of 2014” in India. Ironic part is, four years down the line, now when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is holding political rallies in poll bound states, he is still looking angry! He is now seen blaming “70 years of Congress rule” for everything that going wrong. He wants to look angry and shout against the 70 years of Congress rule because he is a wise politician who knows that in India “anger sells”! Rahul too is seen shouting like never before. It seems that angry speeches and filmy jibes are here to stay in the political campaign of 2019.

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