New Delhi: Varun Gandhi's hate speech, BJP's attack on Manmohan Singh as "a weak prime minister" and the hit-back by the Congress, shoe-throwing by a journalist to protest inaction over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. These were some of the enduring images of India's 15th general elections, in which the chase for allies trumped any serious debate over pressing national and global issues.
Unlike earlier elections, there was no single overarching issue or any attention-grabbing slogan to enthuse voters. There were no blazing Bofors guns showing up corruption in high places, as in 1989. Neither was there any 'India Shining' campaign to be mocked at, as in 2004.
The hysteria associated with 'masjid' (mosque) and 'mandir' (temple) was missing, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) putting its Hindutva agenda on the backburner for the sake of coalition politics.
Elections 2009: Mother of all confusing elections | Election Special: The great Indian poll tamasha
Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raises the sword, presented to him by the Congress candidate from Khandoor Shahib Rana Gurmit Singh during an election rally in Trantaran, Punjab.