When the world’s largest democracy goes to polls, it’s not just about election manifestoes. It’s the time for the politicians to bring out the best in their verbal armory and take pot shots at each other. After all everything’s fair in the name of wooing the voter.
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But the real stunner came when the Prime minister broke his silence. He was called a weak PM by the BJP through his tenure. Singh hit back and went straight for Advani’s jugular. “His only achievement has been the demolition of the Babri Mosque”, said the PM, taking the BJP by surprise. And the technocrat turned politician didn’t stop at that. He even went on to say he would not be found weeping in a corner when a mosque was being brought down. The PM’s outburst caused Advani acute heartache. But the tirade continued. And Sonia Gandhi went on to call Advani “a slave of the RSS”. This time the BJP was left whining. BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad called it the result of utter desperation and said “Mrs Gandhi has a captive PM whose future is being questioned by her own daughter.”
But the one theme that cut across party lines in this election was the humble shoe. It was flung, it pinched, it hurt a few and ousted others. Those who joined the exalted ranks of President Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao include home minister P Chidambaram, Congress’ Kurukshetra candidate Naveen Jindal and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani. The action did have a reaction in at least one case. Congress booted out two candidates – Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar. And just when the BJP was all smiles, the PM hit again. “Any serious political observer knows my remarks on Advani are true. I owe it to myself and the people of India to show where the shoe pinches. Enough is enough” said Manmohan Singh. And the shoe theme continued.
It’s neither the economic rough weather nor the weak internal security nor Pakistan’s volatile democracy that are hogging the headlines. Somehow the only voices standing out in these elections are the ones that say nothing.