With the Lok Sabha elections just a couple of months away, political histrionics have become the (dis)order of the day. The grander the scale and the stage, the better it is for the protagonists to make their presence felt. A week after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee upped the ante against the Modi government with the Kolkata sit-in, her Andhra Pradesh counterpart, N Chandrababu Naidu, observed a fast in New Delhi on Monday in protest against his ally-turned-enemy. Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had pulled out of the BJP-led NDA in March last year over the latter’s failure to grant special status to AP. With 16 Lok Sabha seats, the TDP had been the third largest constituent of the alliance (after the BJP and the Shiv Sena). However, the immediate provocation for the CM’s Dharma Porata Deeksha (day-long protest for justice) was the PM’s outburst during the Guntur rally on Sunday. Modi had admitted that Naidu was ‘senior’ to him, but only in losing elections, switching loyalties and back-stabbing father-in-law NT Rama Rao.
The offended CM, in turn, accused the PM of violating ‘raj dharma’ by denying Andhra Pradesh special status, a promise that the Centre had made during the state’s bifurcation in 2014. He even raked up the 2002 Gujarat riots and quoted then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the mayhem that had rocked the state then ruled by Modi. If the PM called Naidu ‘son Lokesh’s (doting) father’, the CM taunted him by referring to his wife Jashodaben, a private individual.
Elections or no elections, such below-the-belt remarks not only discredit the politicians, but also undermine the constitutional posts that they occupy. By throwing restraint and decorum to the winds, these leaders are demonstrating that they can stoop to any level just to run down their rivals in the hot pursuit of power. The cacophonous barbs are likely to become sharper and more personal as the campaigning hots up in the forthcoming weeks. Sorely being missed are the statesmen who can rise above the theatrics and raise issues of public and national concern.