The most often heard complaint through this long-drawn election campaign is that "political discourse has hit a new low this time".

Many controversial, provocative speeches have indeed been made. In the hinterlands, a bit away from the glare of the media, campaign speeches sometimes have degenerated into abuses and profanities have been hurled in local languages.

But the fact of the matter is this is not the first time these things are happening in electioneering.

It is not a solace to point out that polls in India have always been vexed, vituperative and vicious. 

Not just small politicos, but ministers and top leaders have been guilty of slipping into intemperate language and dubious descriptions.

Rajiv Gandhi, in his times, famously declared, "hum apne virodhiyon ko unki nani yaad dila denge." Nothing earth-shattering, but at that time it indeed was debated animatedly in the media, and Rajiv was accused of lowering the level of political exchanges.

Former minister and Congress leader ABA Ghani Khan Chaudhary once said that he would throw Jyoti Basu into the depths of Bay of Bengal that he can't swim back to safety.

Old-time reporters would recall, over a drink or two at the press club, the colourful language that 'Tau' Devi Lal would use in his speeches against his political rivals. Most of those speeches would be untranslatable as they would be steeped in local patois. In any case, no publication with family readership would allow those words to get on print.

In Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where misogyny and sexism rule roost, political speeches quite regularly transgressed into ribald and risque category. Lalu Prasad Yadav made a name for himself for his bizarre, rhetoric, alliterative usages that were often contentious. He was not averse to body-shaming his rivals with descriptions like "jalebi" Mishra, "peda" Pandey.

In Maharashtra, Sharad Pawar was mostly referred to as 'Pote' (sack) by Bal Thackeray. 

Down South, things were equally worse. DMK leader and several times chief minister of Tamil Nadu, M Karunanidhi, when asked about an attack and subsequent bloody injuries on former Indira Gandhi (in Tamil Nadu by his party cadre), tersely replied that the blood stains on her were because she was going through her periods.

Seriously, this was said. But the thing to note is it was not the worst thing said by politicos. In Tamil Nadu itself, Dravidian parties had a set of public speakers whose task was to use sexually-laced lurid descriptions and innuendoes on opposing party leaders, especially women leaders. (Cassettes of the speeches of these speakers were available in the markets in the 1980s and they were sold as if they were audio version of porn). The things that have been said against Jayalalithaa on public platforms in Tamil Nadu cannot be repeated even in a no-holds barred boozy sessions.

In Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka too, things were no less better as filthy language were used from the dais rather casually.

This is not to justify what is being said by the leaders now. Things are indeed bad now. But no need to get all nostalgic. They were equally bad, if not worse, then.