Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ratna Column: No place for decency & decorum in AP politics

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The ‘murky’ politics going on in Andhra Pradesh is disturbing the public, especially the younger generation. The main players in AP politics are now engaged in wordy duels using offensive language and as a result, political standards have hit the nadir.

The deliberate attempts of the main political parties to character assassinate their rivals is damaging society. Former Election Commissioner of India Dr GVG Krishna Murthy commented 25 years ago that Legislatures mirror society, that is, what a society contains will automatically find its way into Legislatures. He indirectly asked people to elect people of good character as their representatives.

The practice of hurling offensive language at political opponents is being emulated by public representatives in local bodies too. The culture of hurling offensive, unprintable language against political opponents is now making its presence felt in all elected bodies.

Taking on political rivals by criticising their policies has gone out of fashion today. People who are in high elected offices are now compelled to use offensive language for political mileage.

AP has never witnessed this kind of character assassination attempt against political opponents in its history. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy appears to have crossed all limits in attacking his opponents. The reason behind this is that Jana Sena Party (JSP) chief Pawan Kalyan criticised the system of volunteers taking government services to the doors of commoners who are the beneficiaries of the social welfare schemes implemented by Jagan’s government.

Pawan said that the personal data of young women is being used by human traffickers. The crux of Pawan’s charge is that the volunteer system introduced by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy is leading to human trafficking as they have access to vital information about the personal lives of women.

Taking this charge seriously, the CM took a step forward to counter Pawan Kalyan by questioning the propriety of him practising ‘polygamy’. He also levelled the charge of extramarital affairs in addition to polygamy. This has been viewed as a very serious breach of propriety by the ruler of a state against his political rival.

Interestingly, Pawan Kalyan’s JSP is the third biggest political party after the YSR Congress Party and the TDP in AP.

It is a fact that social decorum has been disturbed by the use of this kind of objectionable remarks at programmes organised by the government. Speaking about the three marriages contracted by Pawan Kalyan one after the other (although technically it is not polygamy) due to circumstances in personal life, that too in the presence of school children, while launching the programme ‘Jagananna Vidya Deevena’ (financial assistance to students given by the government), has shocked many. Politically neutral people felt bad on hearing the comments of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. There is a possibility that the objectionable stuff might have been prepared by those who monitor Jagan’s speeches. The offensive material was not part of an extempore speech by the CM as he was reading out scripts prepared by his aides.

The same attitude has been automatically ‘imbibed’ now by ministers, MLAs and YSRCP leaders across the state as if the Chief Minister has shown them the ‘right path’ for flooring adversaries.

The YSRCP bagged 86% of the seats (151) out of a total of 175 seats in the AP Assembly in the 2019 elections. Pawan Kalyan’s JSP got only one seat (Rajole in the combined EG district) and he lost the two seats he had contested. Later, the JSP’s lone MLA switched loyalties to Jagan as he was very much ‘impressed’ by the CM’s development programmes.

Now, Pawan does not have even a single MLA in the AP Assembly. But he is being targeted by the YSRCP as he is considered to be influential due to his social background.

The YSRCP is believed to be trying to scuttle the attempts to forge unity among Kapus as it can have a major effect on the coming Assembly elections. As a popular politician hailing from the Kapu community, Pawan might have become a target for the ruling YSRCP. As Pawan has been chanting the mantra of a united opposition front comprising the TDP, the JSP and the BJP, the ruling party is making all-out efforts by levelling personal charges against the leaders of these three parties.

Even a humorous conversation between TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu and film hero N. Balakrishna on an OTT platform has not been spared. The funny conversation made during younger days between Naidu and Balakrishna was used by the CM for political gains.

Ministers and MLAs like Ambati Rambabu, RK Roja, Jogi Ramesh, Kodali Srivenkateswar Rao (Nani) and Perni Venkatramaiah (Nani) and other party functionaries have sincerely followed the path shown by their leader. These people are criticising Pawan for drawing the attention of their leader that could possibly fetch something in days to come.

One minister called Pawan a mad dog in a highly objectionable way in the presence of the CM. This kind of provocative remarks is causing a furore among the fans of Pawan Kalyan and may naturally invite ‘retaliation.’ If JSP cadres use the same tactic against the Chief Minister, it can invite legal action for denigrating a person holding a high post. That will disturb the peace and affect public life.

A person who is holding a high office must avoid making such objectionable remarks against political opponents so that the rank and file of his party would also follow that. It would be impossible even to imagine that the campaign for the 2024 Assembly elections will have this kind of character assassination attempt. The public should decide whether they want this kind of objectionable tactics. Otherwise, the exchange of provocative words can lead to violence.

The common man wants the government to ensure peace. Both sides can tackle money and muscle power. But character assassination is definitely a cheap trick. It may not carry any punishment, but whoever tries that will certainly invite public wrath.

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