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regular-article-logo Thursday, 30 May 2024

Similar tongue: Editorial on the Delhi rally by members of INDIA bloc

Even Sitaram Yechury, a dyed-in-the-wool Marxist, could not resist a swing of the metaphorical hammer, referring to the churning of the ocean episode from the Vishnu Purana

The Editorial Board Published 03.04.24, 08:06 AM
Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi. File Photo

The rally at Delhi by the constituents of INDIA — the third such event of the Opposition bloc — was a bit of a mixed bag. The political issues raised by most of the participants at the event were predictable. Voices were raised against the arrest of Arvind Kejriwal and Hemant Soren, while the Bharatiya Janata Party was castigated for choosing to target leaders of the Opposition in an unjust manner. What was intriguing though was the symbolism and the language that were employed in the course of the speeches. These were marked by the discernible presence of mythical figures and references to epical texts that usually find place in addresses by the leaders of the BJP, INDIA’s principal political opponent. For instance, Kalpana Soren, Mr Soren’s wife, underscored the need to comprehend the ideals of Rama, New India’s tallest deity. Priyanka Gandhi, who delivered what seemed to be the most stirring speech, reminded the prime minister about the transient nature of power; this message, she said, could be inferred from the life of Rama. Tejashwi Yadav of the Rashtriya Janata Dal took a swipe at Narendra Modi by comparing him with a demonic king. Even Sitaram Yechury, a dyed-in-the-wool Marxist, could not resist a swing of the metaphorical hammer, referring to the churning of the ocean episode from the Vishnu Purana. All of this, of course, was intended to make a political point: that there is a yawning gap between the words and the deeds of Mr Modi and his party.

Whether the electorate is going to accept this argument will be known once the election results are declared. But what is of interest — perhaps even concern for the Opposition — is the centrality of myths and religion in today’s political discourse. When the Opposition has to employ a rhetoric similar to that of the BJP to get its point across to the people, it is suggestive of the latter’s success in blurring the lines between the realms of faith and adult franchise. And it is the BJP that has usually come up on top in the game of the invocation of the sacred to pocket dividends in the political domain. The import of a political discourse rich in religious symbolism in a secular democracy could also have another — intended — consequence: the deflection of public attention from matters — unemployment, inequality, polarisation and so on — in the worldly realm. Surely the Opposition cannot gain from that.

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