When the election scene hots up, the campaign too naturally gets vicious, as all manner of words are hurled by politicos at their rivals. Mudslinging and cheap jibes are the order of the day. In this no-holds-barred situation, women leaders are targeted through utterly disgusting sexist and sexual verbal cheap-shots.

The worrisome detail is that no party is innocent of this shameful tactics. Even the Left parties, who habitually claim that they treat women fairly, cannot claim moral high ground on this matter.

The cussed outpouring of A Vijayaraghavan, a CPI-M leader and the convenor of the Left Democratic Front (LDF) in Kerala, against Ramya Haridas, the UDF candidate from Alathur, is a case in point.

Also read: LDF convenor chides UDF candidate for meeting former accused in sex scam; faces complaint

Speaking at an election rally in Malappuram district, Vijayaraghavan referred to Ramya, after filing her nomination, going to meet PK Kunhalikutty, IUML leader and Malappuram UDF candidate.

"I don’t know what will happen to her now,” Vijayaraghavan deadpanned as the gathered crowd of mostly men laughed and giggled. For, it was an unmistakable sexual innuendo — a crass calling of attention to the fact that Ramya was meeting Kunhalikutty, who was once an accused in a sex scandal case.

Vijayaraghavan was not contrite for his words and has tried to spin his comments as one aimed at the political culture of the UDF.

HD Revanna

In the neighbouring Karnataka, actress Sumalatha (widow of recently deceased actor-politician Ambareesh), the moment it became clear that she might contest from Mandya, was targeted by the Janata Dal (Secular) leaders because chief minister HD Kumaraswamy's son Nikhil Kumaraswamy is also contesting from Mandya. The crudest salvo on Sumalatha was fired by HD Revanna (Kumaraswamy's brother), and he said, "It’s not even been a month since her husband died and instead of grieving, she is already displaying political ambitions and is saying she wants to contest elections. See what level they have stooped to.”

Watch: Revanna slams Sumalatha for entering politics after husband's death

The implicit sexual connotation in the words was not lost on anyone.

In Tamil Nadu, DMDK leader Vijayakanth's wife Premalatha (who is now practically running the party) was targeted in the most loathsome of language by a DMK leader named Erode Iraivan. He referred to Premalatha's mouth being wide and deep enough for a lorry to get in. The reference here and the sleazy image he was trying to whip up are not difficult to guess. But his vulgarity didn't stop there. He went on to unleash more obnoxious lines. But what he spoke cannot be published here as no person with sensitivity will amplify again those depraved sentiments.

Watch: AIADMK MLA Kanagaraj slams DMDK leader Premalatha

The thing is the DMK has a gaggle of such filthy speakers who target women in rival parties in ribald and risque words. Speakers like Nannilam Natarajan, Vetrikondan, Theepori Arumugam were star attractions in DMK meets because they were known for dealing in coarse and licentious language, especially aimed at leaders like Jayalalithaa. Even its main leader M Karunanidhi was, on occasions, not averse to using suggestive terms at Jayalalithaa.

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, women come in for the most indecent of attacks. With actresses like Roja, Vijayashanthi in politics, their rivals unsurprisingly resort to typical misogynistic and foul-mouthed words.

Up north, things are no better. BJP MLA Surendra Singh plumbed new depths when he referred to BSP leader Mayawati and her facials.

Firoz Khan, a Samajwadi leader in Sambhal district in Uttar Pradesh, made a crude comment against his former party colleague and actor-turned-politician Jayaprada when he said “Rampur's evenings will turn colourful in this election." Jayaprada is BJP's candidate from Rampur.

BJP leader and Union minister Mansukh Mandaviya made a racist remark against Congress leader Priyanka Vadra.

Congress ally and PRP leader Jaydeep Kawade said Smriti Irani's big bindi is directly proportional to the number of husbands she has changed.

As you can see, every party is guilty when it comes to attacking women in offensive and distasteful terms. "It is easy to decipher that all these come from the essential patriarchal and feudal set up that our political system is," says Vandana Grewal, a women's activist.

"Despite having leaders who have been prime minister and chief ministers, our politics is still filled with misogyny and people with profane mindset. That is a shame," she adds.