Sunday, June 23, 2024

Public discourse at a new low in Telugu States

  • You reap what you sow
  • Senior leaders are responsible for degeneration
  • Indulge in abusive rhetoric themselves
  • Fail to rein in mischievous colleagues
  • Have to take corrective measures

The public discourse in Telugu States has degenerated to a new low what with the innuendos used by the politicians of all hues in undiluted bitterness. The latest row came from K. Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR), Chief Minister of Telangana, when he said many reckless things during his media conference on Monday. He exceed his limits even according to his standards.  The idea or tactics may be to blame the centre for the woes of the farmers who are desperately throwing paddy on the roads since there were no buyers either from the State or the centre. Any politician is entitled to employ his game plan in one-upmanship but whatever is said or done should be in limits dictated by general ethics, political values and constitutional guidelines.

Dancing dangerously on the verge is an art that KCR had perfected in his political career spanning four decades with considerable achievements. However, he crossed the Lakshmana Rekha when he called Union Minister for Culture, Kishan Reddy a randa, a prohibited word in the vocabulary of a politician or a common man. The CM is entitled to be angry with the minister who is representing Telangana in the union cabinet which is not very helpful. He may be utterly disgusted with the way the Centre has been following double standards when it comes to buying food grains from Punjab and Telangana. He is well within his power to take extreme stand against the BJP-led NDA government. He could even say that the Narendra Modi government should go for the farmers to have better deal. KCR had said that in so many words. He should have stopped at that. Instead, he called Kishan Reddy and another minister Piyush Goel names. He may have tried to impress the farmers about his inability to buy the paddy grown in monsoon because of the unhelpful policies of the union government. But he cannot personally attack the union ministers in unacceptable language.

When KCR attacked Sanjay…

Not many complained when KCR used epithets against Bandi Sanjay, the State president of the BJP, because the latter is also known to use harsh and offending language in his criticism of the CM, TRS and the Telangana government. But Kishan Reddy is known for his culture. He is a polished politician know for etiquette and fair play. He never ever said anything derogatory about his worst adversary. Even in private discussions, Kishan Reddy would not swear or roar or call names or use foul language. He would only sigh and smile disarmingly. Aggression in politics does not mean using unparliamentary language. Decisions taken by a politicians should speak for themselves. Decisions could be bold and aggressive, but not the language employed.  One cannot use the same language against every politician. There are different kinds and levels of politicians. Some talk recklessly and take insults in their stride. Some politicians do not involve in unhealthy exchanges and behave decently with friends and foes alike.

Moreover, KCR is a senior leader who is also a chief minister. He is supposed to be exemplary in his conduct. He is not as free as Bandi Sanjay or Revanth Reddy, TPCC president, to use loose language. Since Sanjay and Reddy are in opposition, they would be excused if they crossed the limits. But a chief minister and a party president of KCR’s standing has to be doubly careful. The civil society does not approve of the attitude and the language adopted by KCR at the media conference on Monday. He is supposed to set the standards, not violate them.

Debate in AP is worse

The public debate in Andhra Pradesh is worse. Respectable ladies are dragged into nasty diatribe. The leaders of YSRCP and the opposition TDP have not been warning their party men when they crossed the threshold. Opposition leader N. Chandrababu Naidu shamelessly crying at a media conference was the ultimate scene one would think of in politics. It was unprecedented and pathetic. He complained that in the running commentary indulged in by YSRCP members in Assembly, they were talking about his wife Bhuvaneswari in a derogatory manner amounting to character assassination. The comments may not have been recorded. But the general impression is that the ruling party members may have said what they were alleged to have uttered. Senior leader Ambati Rambabu’s reference to late Madhava Reddy also was mischievous and uncalled for. Instead of reprimanding the MLAs indulging in maligning the women at home, the ruling party leaders preferred counter – attack against  Naidu saying that he was playing to the gallery as  a tactic for gaining public sympathy and he could not digest his party’s defeat in Kuppam local body elections. They also claimed that  nobody mentioned Bhuvaneswari’s name  in the Assembly. The records of the Assembly vouchsafe their stand. They may be technically right but morally wrong. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy could have put a stop to the nonsense by saying enough is enough. He may not have said a word which is objectionable but he utterly failed to rein in his party members.  Naidu could not gain much sympathy because he did not care to stop his party members earlier when they were indulging in vilification campaign against  YS Sharmila, now president of YSRTP and sister of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. Had Naidu publicly rebuked the party men who mounted the campaign of character assassination against Sharmila through social media controlled by his party and stopped it, he would have got some sympathetic ears in the latest episode. Using social media against the opponents in politics has become a new normal in Telugu States, more so in AP. The TDP has been a past master in this art. The YSRCP has also geared up its network to match the TDP propaganda. You reap what you sow.

Senior leaders should stop the rot

If politics in Telugu States has to be cleansed and steered out of this suicidal path, important leaders like Chandrababu Naidu, KCR, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Revanth Reddy, Bandi Sanjay and Pawan Kalyan have to take the call to reform the public discourse and take corrective measures immediately by setting decent standards. They should behave in an exemplary way and also  take punitive action against any leader in their parties who indulges in foul talk and character assassination. Holier than thou attitude would not help any longer.  UP and Bihar, known for rough and tumble of street politics, are proving far better than AP and Telangana as far as standards of public discourse is concerned. Reform or perish.

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor


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