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Sharp words in elections… How much has the picture changed after independence?

In the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, there is a lot of discussion on issues before 1947. Like Bose vs Savarkar. However, such political propaganda should be brought back to our real and present life. The Election Commission should set a time limit for this. This is because by raising old issues, today’s issues disappear.


  • Allegations and counter-allegations are not new in the electoral battle.
  • Do not miss the opportunity to attack by raising old issues.
  • Should there be a time limit on election rhetoric?
  • Why mention the events that happened before independence now?
Author: Dipankar Gupta

Politicians often publicly target their opponents, they are very fond of doing so. Especially during elections, they raise forgotten issues so that they can attack the opponent in a befitting manner. However, this obscures contemporary issues. In such a situation, the Election Commission itself should prepare a law of limitation in this regard, so that the candidates can be prevented from remembering the old statements or incidents after the cut-off date has been fixed. If such a practice exists in law, its extension into politics would help focus debates on the present. In this, the Election Commission can take one, two or three cues from our legal code. Indian courts accept defamation and slander charges provided the alleged incident occurred within one year. For civil suits, the general limit is three years and for property disputes, 12 years. Of course, there are some clearly defined exceptions to all of these.

Why is rhetoric time limit necessary in elections?

However, keep in mind that the principle of ‘karma’ does not apply in law because if a person dies, it reduces that particular legal prosecution. There is a fine point in jurisprudence, which reinforces the adage of not speaking ill of the dead. Going back to the statements made in the pre-independence days has little relevance today. Take the example of Subhash Chandra Bose and Veer Savarkar. True, Bose valued Savarkar and wanted him to enter public life after his release from jail in 1937. It is also true that Bose had opposed Savarkar, when Savarkar had claimed that the Hindu Mahasabha represented all Hindus and that the Congress should step back.

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When the issue of Bose and Savarkar arose in the elections

It is equally true that Subhash Chandra Bose had sought the help of Hindu Mahasabha during the Kolkata municipal elections in 1940. Finally, Bose had also said that he was sympathetic to the ‘real’ Hindu Mahasabha and not the ‘political’ Hindu Mahasabha. However, today, even contemporary supporters of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose would find it difficult to understand the difference. It may seem mysterious now, but it was not so then.

Similarly, communists are also having difficulty justifying the CPI’s surrender to Stalin in the 1940s. The world was a different place at that time. Similarly, division may embarrass many of our political forefathers and expose their shortcomings. In 1947, lies and double talk collided sharply with the pictures printed on the walls. Pressing these buttons will keep the ‘he said and she said’ tape playing forever. This is why such debates must be time bound because we were not part of the context in which they were first formulated.

Old things take us away from the present

It’s hard to pass on a language that no one speaks, or that hasn’t been spoken in a long time. Going into the election battle with such old memories diverts attention from current concerns. When we turn away from the present, there is a danger that emotions will take over and the heart will soon take over the mind. The great Max Weber said that our real, concrete everyday lives should determine our political choices. If one sensationalizes the past, of which one has no experience, then the heart takes over the mind and politics becomes inappropriate. It is because of such lapse in pure sentiments that the agitators have been successful in instigating the people, which has led to tragic results.

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Time limit is also mentioned in the law

The ‘politics of responsibility’, which Weber advocated above the ‘politics of commitment’, derives its strength from the lives of real people, not from some imaginary world that no one has seen. The violence during Partition was so frenetic that it did not even stop to think twice before taking the lives of countless people. Is it even civilized to ask whether there was an overall communal balance among the dead? Not only should pre-1947 issues not be included in our election rhetoric, but politicians who have passed away should also not be revived to target them. This is because we know that the law prevents legal proceedings against the deceased person. Even if this is historically accurate, when the past ramps up, concerns about the present go out of fashion. On the other hand, copy-pasting from law books without removing and noting in the margins would be cheap and mentally lazy. Uniqueness is the mother of relevance and the Election Commission is fully aware of this.

It is necessary to promote ‘politics of responsibility’

Such a proposal would, obviously, require lengthy consultation, but only if the cause is considered worthwhile. To move the thought process forward, we can set a time limit to score political points for whatever was said or done 70 years ago. For example, the principle of non-alignment and the Panchsheel principle have disappeared from history and have become a part of our political prehistory. Very close to the time, the liberalization of the Indian economy almost completely obliterated post-independence Nehruvian thinking. Nevertheless, 1991 would make the time frame too short unless the 1975 Emergency is included as an exception. Memories of that period under harsh laws are still fresh as millions of Indians suppress their suffering for fear of dire punishment. Elections can be kept civilized if people respond mainly to matters that affect their everyday lives. For this purpose, the Election Commission may frame a specific Limit Act with clearly demarcated exceptions like the law. This will, in the short run, promote the ‘politics of responsibility’ and logic. Of course, existing laws can assist in this effort, but only after careful consideration. Otherwise, this proposed election oriented limit law may become a fake law.

(The author is a sociologist)

Ruchir Shukla

About the Author

Ruchir Shukla

Ruchir Shukla has been associated with presswire18 Times Online since February 2020. First a news agency, then after TV journalism he entered digital media. Working in digital media for about 10 years. There is special interest in politics, crime, positive news of all kinds. The process of learning and understanding continues continuously.… Read more
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