This morning, the December air was even more hazy and dull… the winter chill setting in but the confusing mist replete with pollution and not the cold. The onset of winter may have brought down temperatures for the common man but in political circles the heat is on and dirt is flung around.

Moving along the bustling lanes later in the day, one is unable to ignore the rising pollution and air quality the NCR is facing yet again. Between the traffic signals and the chaotic junctions is a haze that plummets our emotional quotient. The busy day ahead and the realities of the various elections coming up in our country come to fore as one meanders through traffic and multitudes of people… The mind is boggled by all the hate and slandering… We hit a new low each day with the tone and tenor that is shrill and jarring.

Sporadic conversations discuss the travails of the pandemic, dengue, breathing illnesses, toxic air, chest congestions and the fear of the worsening air quality crisis looming large. With the ‘clouds’ providing a glimmer of hope every now and then, and then blowing away under the gust of strong winds and the rains playing truant, it appears to reflect the current state of our country. Past and present elections in various states are being remembered for the vitiated atmosphere under which they are being fought, with all parties indulging in vicious name calling and blatant attempts to polarize the voters.

Poll rhetoric during elections is normal in India but over the years the levels are often personal and below the belt, leaving the rest of the country stunned, disillusioned and conjecturing where the political discourse is heading.

A large part of the problem can be traced to the fact that most politicians are either semi-educated or minimally educated having suspect degrees that are more a formality than any educational value. It is a fact that despite consistent efforts for changing the face of the country, much remains to be done. But it is to be realised that the deeper the inherited malady, the longer it takes to put things right. The levels of decency have gone down abysmally and political propriety has been thrown to the winds.

Every stratagem to lure the voters to vote them to power is being tried. Their chief weapon of disinformation is speaking of lies. They seem to believe that when a lie is repeated umpteen times, it passes as a truth but the voters are mature enough politically to sift the grain from the chaff.

All this brings us to one conclusion that there is an urgent need for all parties to discuss and debate establishing a minimum standard of protocol in public life that all must ensure and follow, in and outside the Parliament. It is imperative that each party has its own checks and balances, ensuring that its leaders and party cadres uphold a minimum standard of protocol in public life. There also must be no place for violence in any form, is that too much to expect?

While we grapple with all the shenanigans yet again, I do know for sure, there will be winter blooms yet again tomorrow, bringing with them the faint flicker of hope and the freshness of a new dawn.

Electoral Campaigns and Freedom of Speech: The Need for a fetter | SCC Blog