Why Are Politicians Behaving So Aggressively This Election Season
The 2019 elections have been a long one with seven phases of elections. With four rounds of voting done, certain incidents have happened that have marred the electoral process. Some leaders of political parties, particularly BJP have behaved in the most unbecoming way.
The election process in India has gone on for a long time with three phases of voting yet to happen. Four phases of voting have already taken place in the election that is spread over two months. With such a long time period, certain incidents have happened that have marred the electoral process. Some leaders of political parties, particularly from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have behaved in the most unbecoming way.
The latest incident to be reported about a political leader behaving this way happened in Kanpur. A BJP leader was caught on camera threatening a police officer. The incident happened on a day when the area voted as a part of phase four of the elections. Under phase four, 72 constituencies went to vote. Suresh Awasthi, the BJP leader, is seen on video telling the police officer that he was on his "hit list".
The video of the event has gone viral. In it, the BJP leader can be seen threatening the circle officer, saying, "will see you tomorrow, you are on my hit list". He was also heard warning the officer not to look him in the eye. The officer responded to the threat by telling him "to do whatever he wants".
While this incident is disturbing enough and has broader implications, he is not the only leader who has tussled with officials this election season. On the same day, Union minister Babul Supriyo found himself in a bit of a tight spot. Supriyo, whose constituency Asansol, went to polls in phase four, even has a case registered against him for interfering in the voting process. The Election Commission instructed the West Bengal state police to file an FIR against Supriyo for entering a polling booth and interfering in the polling process and threatening polling officials.
According to media reports, Supriyo arrived at the booth after an initial disagreement that occurred when BJP workers insisted that election officials launch the voting process only after central security forces arrived. The situation soon turned violent, forcing the police to intervene. Photographs of the incident showed Supriyo sitting in a car with the rear windows smashed. The 48-year-old leader then had a heated argument with polling officials inside the booth, where he reportedly threatened them.
There is a trend emerging here, of BJP leaders aggressively pushing the envelope for any kind of advantage in the ongoing polls. The aggressiveness has been seen in past statements of several leaders of the party. Some have been pulled up by the Election Commission, while some others have been able to get away without even a slap on the wrist.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi was caught on camera telling a gathering of Muslims that she may not be inclined to their requests if they did not vote for her in the upcoming elections. She made the comments after a rally in her constituency, Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Then, there was the case of BJP leader Sakshi Maharaj who will fight to retain the Unnao seat in UP. He was caught on camera threatening to “curse” people if they didn’t vote for him in an election rally. While Maneka was pulled up for her remarks, Maharaj seems to have gotten away with it.
While aggressiveness from political leaders can hardly be seen as the domain of one single party, in this election, it has markedly come from one single party. There are exceptions, like West Bengal where the Trinamool Congress has also been accused of violence and aggressiveness in poll campaigns. But even here, the BJP cannot be seen just as a victim.
Recently, a TMC leader allegedly pulled out a gun during a live television discussion. While this would be seen as another political leader reacting aggressively, this time not from the BJP, there is more than what meets the eye. An investigation by a fact checking website found that the leader had not pulled out a gun but a mike, which was mischievously edited to appear like a gun. Furthermore, it was found that the account which first posted this doctored video on Twitter was followed by prominent BJP leaders like Union minister Piyush Goyal and BJP Delhi spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga.
So what does this show? While these might not be the only such incidents doing the rounds, they have emerged into the public consciousness. That is because they must have created some level of resonance in the public's imagination. It may be due to the arrogance of power or perhaps an outward sign of nervousness regarding the election result. All that is debatable. But one thing is certain, it does not reflect well on the BJP.