One thing stands out about Lok Sabha elections 2019, and it is disturbing. No real issues are being discussed this time, and it has come down to personal attacks.
As an article in India Today claims, the attacks are either jibes over the prime minister’s wife or criticism about the main Opposition leader’s family holiday three decades ago.
As the voting process comes to an end on Sunday after six weeks, and results are known on May 23, election observers looked back to say this was an unusually hostile campaign period, spread over six weeks.
“The last few elections were about corruption or inflation,” Harsh Pant, a political analyst at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi, told India Today. “This time, there are no real issues being discussed.”
In 2014, Modi won riding a wave of anger against alleged corruption by the Congress party. The mood was different in the run-up to this year’s polls. The BJP had lost three states in December amid anger over weak farm incomes and unemployment.
But a suicide car bomb attack by a Pakistan-based militant group that killed at least 40 CRPF jawans in Kashmir changed the narrative to national security. “The Opposition were caught off guard.. it became very difficult to contest on that,” Pant said.
On Monday, BSP chief Mayawati urged women not to vote for Modi, saying he had abandoned his wife as a teenager. “How can he (Modi) respect others’ sisters and wives when he has left his own innocent wife for political gains,” Mayawati asked.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi, meanwhile, often ends his rallies by leading chants of “Chowkidar chor hai (the watchman’s a thief, watchman referring to Modi)”.
“… Fatigue has set in among voters, even as politicians appear to be running out of relevant issues…” said an editorial in the Times of India on Tuesday.
Modi, too, is blamed. He described Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi, a former prime minister, “India’s most corrupt man” who used a warship during a 1987 holiday as his family’s own “personal taxi”.
The Congress denies this.
Modi, however, denies he is to blame for the state of political debate in the country. He said social media was amplifying negative statements. “Now, from a 50-minute speech, a 10-second statement is taken and played on loop 24 hours,” he told Hindustan Times on May 9. “That said, there should definitely be courtesy.”