Leaders campaign with tales of terror, murder

Naidu even explains about “bloodstains being cleaned” in the house of Vivekananda.

Hyderabad: From the murderous attack on N. Chandrababu Naidu by Maoists in Alipiri in 2003, to the gory details of the recent murder of YSRC leader Y.S. Vivekananda Reddy to the 2007 Macca Masjid blasts, faction murders, Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s death in a copter crash and the “details” of the probe into the alleged illegal assets of YSRC leader Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy most of the stories are in the public domain but what makes them more “gripping” now are a bunch of “storytellers”.

Move on to the national scene and there come stories of the Pulwama attack which claimed the lives of 49 CRPF jawans, the number of terrorists killed in Balakot air strikes and the ever-fascinating tales of super-rich fugitives like Nirav Modi and Vijay Mallya.

Bad news often sells and filmmakers of the likes of Ram Gopal Varma have made the most of it. In the election season, it appears that the politicos of various parties are making their public meetings more gripping than ever before by injecting good doses of death and destruction terror/maoist attacks, murders, frauds, conspiracy theories featuring prominently in their speeches which most of the times is overtaking the usual issues of bijli, sadak, paani and naukri!

As for the huge crowds who gather to listen to their favourite leaders, it appears that they too are fascinated by hearing about what has gone wrong, or could go wrong, rather than what has gone right the evidence of which is their loud cheering when bizarre human tragedies are narrated.

Recently, in his speeches, Mr Naidu has begun to talk of the 2003 Alipiri attack, where he almost lost his life when Maoists exploded powerful claymore mines. “Maoists tried to kill me in the blast but I survived the deadly assassination attempt only to serve you...” he says.

Besides the Alipiri attack, Mr Naidu tries to do a Sherlock Holmes when he explains, in detail about “bloodstains being cleaned” in the house of Vivekananda Reddy, and goes on to talk about the bloodied letter and blames the YS family members despite the fact that the investigators are still struggling to get leads. The crowds who listen to him only cheer him loudly when he talks of it but seem bored when he talks of his governance.

But Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy is not far behind, talking about how vendetta politics landed him behind bars, then giving his own version of his uncle’s murder and in between invoking his father’s death. “They (Mr Naidu and his government) killed my uncle brutally for political gains and now their own police wants to investigate it. Is this fair? Don’t be surprised if they kill me or other family members too before elections,” he says, rather emotionally to loud cheers from the public. On a few occasions, he has also made mention of the attack on him at the Vizag airport in October 2018.

Not far behind is MIM MP Asaduddin Owaisi who talks about issues right from the Pulwama attacks to air strikes to Nirav Modi to Vijay Mallya and comes down to the Macca Masjid blast and its accused Aseemanand and the recent verdict acquitting him in the Samjhauta blast case.

“The fascination with crime and related stories has always been there. But if there is a good storyteller in the form of a well-known political leader, who narrates crime stories peppered with juicy tidbits, people do get fascinated. Mostly in our society, people like to hear more about bad than good and looks like death and destruction is playing a key role this political season,” says Delhi-based psychologist Anand Kapoor.

He says that even though the stories may be well-known, it is the storyteller who makes them more interesting and the people love it. Asked if this means that there is more negativity in these elections than positivity, Kapoor says: ''It is indeed negative and portrays the mindset of people at large,” he says adding that the case is no different with the media and movies.

Interestingly, former CBI joint director V.V. Lakshminarayana, who is contesting from the Vizag Lok Sabha seat on a Jana Sena ticket, is the new entrant to these set of politicos as he is expected to go into minute details of the investigation into Mr Reddy’s alleged disproportionate assets cases. He was heading the investigation into Mr Reddy’s case and the YSR copter crash besides other high-profile cases.

“With regard to Vivekananda Reddy’s murder, a few media houses have reported it as if YS family is involved and are talking about evidence being destroyed. Therefore, our leader, who is also a victim, is trying to explain how the government is going about it. No one likes death and destruction but the government’s high-handedness has to be explained. There was an attack on Jagan also,” says YSRC former MP P.V. Mithun Reddy.

He says Mr Naidu’s Alipiri attack took place long back, in 2003 but he is still trying to play victim despite the fact that he lost the elections after the attack. People do not vote on these issues but vote on governance, Mr Mithun Reddy said.

Mr Kanna Phaneendra, who is contesting for the first time from the Peddakurapadu Assemb-ly constituency on a BJP ticket, says politicians should be the glue that holds and not the knife that cuts. “Love triumphs over hate. Winn-ing trust of people is difficult but not impossible and to achieve it, one has to rise above petty considerations. What people need the most today is compassion, love and understanding.”

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