From venomous snake to ‘Vishakanya’ and ‘Nalayak Beta’ – The plummeting public discourse during K’taka elections

12:08 PM May 09, 2023 | PTI |

Barbs like ‘venomous snake’, ‘Vishakanya’ and ‘Nalayak’ — struck discordant notes as a plummeting level of campaign discourse marked electioneering in Karnataka that votes on Wednesday. Instances of leaders using intemperate and abusive language without exercising caution and restraint vitiated the campaign and election atmosphere, political observers note.


The high decibel campaign for polls to the 224-member Assembly ended on Monday in the state, which is witnessing a triangular contest between the ruling BJP, the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular), headed by former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda. On campaign trail, AICC President M Mallikarjun Kharge made the ”venomous snake” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Addressing a public meeting at Ron in Gadag district on April 27, Kharge said: ”Don’t make a mistake. Modi is like a venomous snake…” Kharge, who hails from Karnataka, came under sharp attack by the BJP, and Modi too raised this issue during his election rallies. Kharge later clarified that his comment was not against the Prime Minister per se but the BJP. An angry counter came from BJP’s Vijayapura candidate Basanagouda Patil Yatnal who likened former Congress president Sonia Gandhi to ‘Vishakanya’ (venomous maiden).

Days later, Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge, who is contesting the Assembly elections from Chittapur in Kalaburagi constituency, called Modi a ‘Nalayak Beta’ (inept son) over ”confusion” with regard to the internal reservations for the Scheduled Castes, especially nomadic Lambani tribes.

Corruption issues also dominated dominated campaigning as the BJP and the Congress engaged in a fierce fight. As the Congress continued to attack the the ruling BJP, calling it a ”40 per cent commission government”, the Prime Minister hit out back at the grand old party pointing to the 85 per cent corruption when Rajiv Gandhi was the Prime Minister. He likened the Congress symbol of palm with a ‘claw’ saying, ”Which was the claw that took away 85 per cent of the public share?”


On the day Modi took out a mega rally on May 6, the Congress alleged that the Chittapur BJP candidate Manikanta Rathod hatched a plot to eliminate Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and his family. It played an alleged audio recording of the conversation claimed to be that of Rathod where he purportedly made the threat. Rathod denied the charge saying it was all lies.


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