The one other word that rightly describes the BJP’s conduct in Parliament, apart from obstructionism, is “rudeness”. Whether it is senior leaders of the party or ordinary spokespeople, the common trait that all of them possess is uncouth aggression, calling others names, disallowing them from speaking, disrupting proceedings, booing ministers….The only thing left now for the party to descend to the bottommost pits is getting physical.
The BJP may want to keep two consequences of this style in mind. First, and most important I would imagine, it does not win them additional voters. All that it does is make those already supporting it swing further in support. Lay people – most of whom are not as aggressive – watch with disgust and anger when senior leaders call the PM “chor”. That too, this particular PM who is the most decent and humble PM India has ever had. Such aggression is seen as bullying tactics, the belief that whoever has more muscles is stronger, and whoever has a louder voice is more correct. Indians – trained to respect elders and the humble – don’t take kindly to it. The second fall-out of this aggressive style is that it doesn’t win the party any more allies. But that’s an old story. No one wants to align with the BJP, especially after the most aggressive of them, Narendra Modi, has been anointed as the campaign chief.
I don’t know if it is some sort of a heady smell of power that affects them all, but every BJP spokesperson – including the ladies, Smriti Irani and Meenakshi Lekhi – speak such guttural language that watching them on TV becomes a challenge. But then why blame them? They look up to their leaders for inspiration. When they see the normally dignified Arun Jaitley interrupt the PM with unproven accusations of cash-for-votes (no matter how untenable that charge; I wrote about this on Sept 6, 2011: http://prashant-therealtruth.blogspot.in/2011/09/cash-for-votes-scam-more-likely-bjp-is.html), what inspiration do they get? When they see their PM-in-waiting call the PM names, that inspiration gets re-inforced. Yashwant Sinha, Ravi Shankar Prasad and even the usually more dignified Nirmala Seetharaman are hyper-aggressive by normal standards.
BJP leaders are even more abusive and uncouth on twitter. This is what Meenakshi Lekhi tweeted: #PMOChorHai NAHIN yeh Sarkar choro ki barat hai, hunger, inflation, scams & devaluation of Re, 157 files missing, corrupt/helpless/puppet PM???. I wonder what a lay person feels when he reads this tweet. Now I know that everyone believes the digital world is like the wild west, but data suggests otherwise. Tech expert Vijay Mukhi writes this lovely post on this: http://www.mxmindia.com/2013/08/why-the-bjp-is-wrong-in-wanting-to-be-aggressive-on-the-social-web/.
The only other person/party that follows an equally abusive style is the Aam Aadmi Party. Some of the posters they have put up in Delhi are truly pathetic. But what about a national party like the BJP? I think that with the older brigade yielding to the younger one, the BJP is morphing. I have never heard Vajpayee or Advani use such language. Clearly, they are no longer inspirational.
Regional parties are typically the ones one would expect to engage in such language. But even regional parties adopt a much better tone and manner when they come onto the central stage. I have heard spokespeople of SP, BSP, JD(U), all on TV, and none of them come anywhere close to the BJP. The Congress is particularly careful on this front. I have never seen their spokespeople or leaders use abusive language againt BJP’s leaders. The BJP is in a permanently attacking mode, no matter what the issue. And since the party does have gifted speakers, it packs in a punch. But what does that punch deliver for the party? In my humble opinion, it only takes away potential voters. Maybe that’s why the latest India Today poll gives the NDA lesser seats in 2014 than it did six months back.
It’s the same with our TV channels. Hindi news channels have always been loud and sensationalist. That’s probably why they get such poor viewership. In terms of GRPs (Gross Rating Points – aggregation of viewership over a week), Hindi news channels collectively garner just around 120 GRPs a week. Contrast that with the GECs (General Entertainment Channels like Star, Sony, Colors, Zee) which get 10 times more at 1300 odd. Even Hindi movie channels get 5 times more at 600 odd GRPs. Even the more niche music channels manage 100 GRPs. Why do Hindi channels fare so poorly? Is it because of what they have done to their language? Is this also why newspaper, far more careful with their language, keep growing in India while they are dropping elsewhere in the world?
But what is even more shocking is the way the English news channels have gone in the last two years or so, since their language became even foul (since the CWG scam days really). As their presentation became dirtier, their GRPs crashed. Today, the top three English news channels garner a total of just 1.5 GRPs a week. This is a quarter of what it was two years back. Just think about this. Even English movies manage 20 times more at 30 GRPs a week.
The real truth is that BJP leaders/their followers/media owners all need to think about whether rude language is helping them at all. In my humble opinion, and the data justifies my viewpoint, no….