In an election speech in Gujarat in 2007, Sonia Gandhi had referred to Narendra Modi as ‘maut ka saudagar’ (‘merchant of death’).
During the campaign for the assembly elections in Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan this year, various controversial statements have been made by politicians. The Election Commission has issued notices to some of these politicians, stating that these controversial statements violated the model code of conduct. Till now, the politicians and their parties have not expressed any regret for their intemperate utterances.
In sharp contrast, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) issued an unsolicited apology for the foul language used by TV anchor Rajiv Laxman while campaigning for the party in New Delhi. Rajiv Laxman has also apologised.
AAP’s apology was unqualified and appeared sincere.
However, Rajiv’s apology was qualified by the statement, “One must understand that it is the way I speak normally.”
AAP member Shazia Ilmi’s apology for the incident was qualified by, “… that is his way of talking. That’s how the youth connects with him.” As the Oneindia report states, Rajiv is known for his rude and abusive language. Shouldn’t AAP have cautioned him against using such language?
Oneindia’s headline ‘First an abuse, then an apology; is this the way how AAP works?’ reminded me of a sequence in the film ‘Dabangg’, in which Makkhi Pandey complains to the police that his stepbrother, Chulbul Pandey had beaten him up. Makkhi’s father withdraws the complaint after Chulbul apologises to Makkhi, saying, “It’s a family matter.” Within no time, Chulbul slaps Makkhi in public, apologises and says with a smirk, “It’s a family matter.”
Only time will tell if AAP’s apology was a genuine apology or a ‘Chulbul Pandey’ apology. I sincerely hope that AAP’s apology is a genuine apology. AAP has come as a breath of fresh air in the political arena. It is not enough if AAP is better than other parties because the standard of political discourse is, to put it mildly, generally quite low. The Aam Aadmi (common man) expects AAP to raise the level of political discourse and political morality. AAP must live up to these expectations.