The EC way out

BJP, Congress doth protest too much: each needs to thicken its skin.

The BJP is aggrieved. The Congress called it a "feku (braggart)" in Madhya Pradesh and equated it with "thieves and robbers" in Chhattisgarh. What's more, Rahul Gandhi accused it of creating social tensions in Karnataka and Maharashtra. For these aspersions and for violating the Model Code of Conduct, the BJP demands that the EC derecognise the Congress as a national party. As election season has progressed, political parties have developed extraordinarily thin skins. And no party hesitates to take its grievances to the EC. Could it be that they mistake election complaints for election campaigns?

Earlier, it was the Congress's turn to complain. Narendra Modi's "khooni panja" comment set the Congress off in the direction of the EC. And its litany of complaints kept growing ó Modi had allegedly mimicked Rahul Gandhi at a rally, he had also launched personal attacks on the Gandhi family. The BJP was also guilty of more subtle offences. Lotuses are suggestive, the Congress told the state election commission in Madhya Pradesh, they would enamour voters of the BJP. But the SEC refused to "hide" the offending flowers, explaining that they had occupied the water bodies for a long time and not shown any political leanings.

Each party seems to have assumed an air of po-faced rectitude, while the EC is cast as the schoolmarm tasked with soothing ruffled feathers. But in the rough and tumble of electoral politics, harsh words are often exchanged. Parties are usually robust enough to counter them within the bounds of political discourse. So while this regard for the code of conduct is admirable, the sudden attack of delicacy is surprising. Politics, it is well known, is hardly ever politically correct.

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