Is Revenge Politics the new formula for survival in Indian Politics?

From social media to the streets, we see the calls for revenge feeding the political agenda. As a result, we see democratic tolerance and the space for acceptance of diverse ideas deteriorating in our country. 

Whether you consider the battle between Jayalalitha & Karunanidhi where there were acts of political vendetta, violence and arrests that shocked the nation or those who voiced concerns against Modi in Gujarat after the Godhra riots incident or if we go way back to Indira Gandhi’s assassination, vendetta politics have always been part of the Indian political space. 

However, ever since 2014, a slow dissemination of hate into the psyche of people through various media has created an atmosphere of distrust, anger and hate — negative emotions that are now dominating the political sphere. This has also given rise to revenge politics in India. 

Let me give you an example: When the Pulwama attack on CRPF Jawans happened, Navjoth Singh Siddhu was hounded out of a popular show for posting a tweet about Terrorists. It did not stop there. The Internet was trending with #BoycottSidhu, #BoycottTheShow slogans…reposted by people who are well-known members and spokespersons of the BJP. Some even proudly threatened to attack Sidhu openly. 

Similarly, another example is from the state of Andhra Pradesh: Anyone aware of the politics in AP has witnessed vendetta politics of the YSRCP against the TDP. From brutal and violent attacks on their karyakartas to direct threats, the YSRCP has been resorting to all sorts of tactics to scare off the Opposition. Additionally, a carefully crafted negative propaganda just before the 2019 assembly elections in the state against TDP Chief Chandrababu Naidu has also helped the party in many different ways. 

Moreover, the combined attack of the YSRCP and TRS against the TDP is one such stark example. From KCR’s return gift jibe to Jagan’s constant personal attacks on Chandrababu and TDP, we have seen how several incidents of revenge among politicians have changed the political narrative. In AP’s case, another addition to this is: Chandrababu Naidu Vs. Modi. The BJP’s on and off attacks on Naidu have all been part of Narendra Modi’s vendetta politics against TDP ever since the party broke off its alliance with the BJP-led NDA government in 2018 January. This hasn’t stopped ever since and Andhra Pradesh continues to bear the brunt of local and national vendetta politics.

Similarly, in West Bengal. It is Mamata Banerjee Vs. BJP. It is a known fact that BJP President Amit Shah keeps warning West Bengal openly about losing her legislative strength in the Assembly, ahead of the elections this year. From warning her to be out of power soon to clearly indicating a saffron sweep this year, the BJP’s vendetta politics in the state have gone too far, fanning religious hatred in the state. 

The language of revenge is openly being propagated in the India we live in today, unfortunately. And, politicians and political parties that fail to participate in vendetta politics are the ones that stand the chance to gradually fade out. 

For instance: One of the reasons why Chandrababu Naidu has garnered massive negative propaganda is due to the lack of his party’s indulgence in vendetta politics, the way YSRCP indulges in. TDP karyakartas are always instructed by the party High Command to show restraint even when provoked. This is also one of the reasons why TDP is facing a crisis today in Andhra Pradesh. 

Now, the bigger question is, while we are aware that revenge in politics has become a crucial part of a political party’s survival guide, there is also an ethical question that needs to be answered: Could vendetta politics and whipping up emotions of 130 crore people eventually come back to bite us and turn dangerous for our country?

One thing is sure: Fanning such anxieties will have severe consequences for India, sooner or later! 

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