Personal attacks and name-calling have become commonplace in poll-bound Telangana, with political discourse degrading with each passing day. On Monday, Irrigation Minister and nephew of TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao T Harish Rao, during a speech, said that he would cut off the tongue of Revuri Ramesh from the Telugu Desam Party.
“As a last-ditch effort, they are resorting to cheap tricks. If you continue speaking like this, I will cut off your tongue, let me warn you,” Harish Rao said. However, courting controversy by way of making remarks is not new for the TRS. In May, Finance Minister Etela Rajender was criticised for making the exact same remark when the Opposition criticized the Rythu Bandhu scheme introduced by the TRS.
It may be safe to say that the bitter election campaign was started by K Chandrasekhar Rao. During his second public meeting after the dissolution of the Telangana Assembly, held on October 3 in Nizamabad, KCR launched into a tirade against the leaders of the Mahakutami, particularly Andhra CM and Telugu Desam Party chief N Chandrababu Naidu.
KCR literally spat on the ‘unholy’ alliance of the TDP and Congress, and went on to call Naidu various names such as ‘Telangana Drohi’ (Telangana betrayer) and ‘Dhurmaargudu’ (evil). He further went on to attack senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, and called him a ‘Ghulam’ (slave of the Gandhi family).
However, Congress star campaigner Revanth Reddy gives the TRS stiff competition when it comes to controversial remarks and personal attacks.
The situation hit a new low when TRS’ Chennur candidate Balka Suman and Revanth Reddy were embroiled in a nasty war of words. Balka Suman showered abuses on Revanth Reddy and called him a ‘dwarf’, and in response, Reddy said that Suman is someone who chews on the leftover bones of KCR — an insult for which Suman can file a case against Reddy under the Prevention of SC and ST Atrocities Act, as he belongs to the SC community.
All of these remarks are a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC). The MCC guidelines as per the Election Commission of India says, “Criticism of other political parties, when made, shall be confined to their policies and programme, past record and work. Parties and candidates shall refrain from criticism of all aspects of private life, not connected with the public activities of the leaders or workers of other parties. Criticism of other parties or their workers based on unverified allegations or distortion shall be avoided.” The MCC came into force in Telangana on September 27.
“Personal attacks are prohibited under the MCC, only criticism related to public activity is allowed. If anyone violates it, based on a complaint, the Returning Officer can file a case and take suitable action,” Telangana Chief Electoral Officer Rajat Kumar said.
However, political commentator T Lakshminarayana feels that the EC should take proactive steps to ensure that such personal attacks are avoided during campaigns. “Politicians will abide by the law only if the Election Commission of India takes prompt action against them. Only the EC can correct the discourse by taking a suo moto complaint based on newspaper articles and videos,” he said.