Slide in political discourse: With general elections barely a year and half away in India, expect things to get much worse. Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s no secret that ties between the government and the opposition in India are not that great and sometimes it gets very personal. But the coarse language used in the political arena has become more frequent and disturbingly so.

Last week, parliament saw a storm over comments made by new President of the Congress party, Mallikarjun Kharge, in which he had commented on the role of the BJP and Sangh Parivar in the independence struggle, asking if even their dogs had sacrificed anything for the country.

The BJP has demanded an apology but Kharge has refused and doubled down instead.

Around the same time, another controversy erupted over comments made by congress leader from UP Ajay Rai, about union minister Smriti Irani, saying she came to her parliamentary constituency Amethi only to dance.

This once again reflects the sheer misogyny in the Indian political discourse. Rai too has refused to apologise.

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The Congress says they are not to blame to using bad language, and point out numerous times BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister, have made controversial statements.

PM Narendra Modi had once called Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi names. In the past he used excessive words for Renuka Choudhary and Sunanda Pushkar, the late wife of Shashi Tharoor.

A few years ago, Tej Pratap Yadav, the elder son of Lalu Prasad, used appalling language against Narendra Modi because the security for his father, Lalu Prasad Yadav, had been downgraded.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge
All sides of the political spectrum have lowered the bar of civilised discourse in India Image Credit: ANI

No one is immune 

The fact is, none of these parties can claim any moral high ground on abusive language. What is unfortunate is what the political discourse has been reduced to.

It reflects yet again the total breakdown of relations between the government and the opposition. Abuse isn’t new in Indian politics but it has become far more common. It distracts from a meaningful debate and disagreement on issues that matter to people.

The debasement of the discourse has been endorsed by top leaders across the spectrum who have made this the new normal. Even the outrage in the media doesn’t last for more than a day or two.

It has become so bad that we don’t even outrage over hate speeches which call for violence against entire communities, especially minorities.

None of this will change as long as we, the voters, don’t push back.

With general elections barely a year and half away, expect things to get much worse.