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Campaigns yet to start but expletives fly thick and fast in Punjab

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 1 August 2016, 12:48 IST
QUICK PILL
The situation
  • Assembly Polls in Punjab are drawing closer
  • Congress, SAD-BJP and AAP are fighting a pitched battle on Punjab turf
Poll speak
  • Name-calling and use of expletives seem to be the norm of the day for Punjab campaigns
  • It is only expected to get worse as poll dates approach
More in the story
  • Who said what to whom
  • Why is this trend making some politicians very unhappy

It may still be some time before elections are declared to the Punjab Legislative Assembly, but the political temperature seems to be soaring already: name-calling is the order of the day and invectives are flying in thick and fast.

The language being used by politicians from various parties is an indication of things to come once the polls are announced and real campaigns pick up speed.

A liberal use of abuses, even in general parlance, is not unusual in Punjab. Perhaps that is why the people in the state had no objection to cuss words used in the recent Bollywood flick Udta Punjab. They probably related to it, enjoyed it even.

And at this point in time, politicians are also indulging in cuss words liberally, calling each other names. Often they also portray their rivals as villainous characters from history.

While such things draw laughter from the audience, veteran politicians are appalled at the falling standards in Indian polity.

Poster wars

The most recent examples being quoted, and also trending on the social media, are the hoardings that have been put up by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) against Punjab Revenue Minister Bikramjit Singh Majithia.

The posters show AAP leaders, including National Convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying: "I proclaim a thousand times that Majithia is a drug smuggler."

AAP has started a poster war and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is sure to get back soon. AAP leaders are already facing a defamation case filed by Majithia for repeatedly referring to him as 'Drug Lord'.

AAP intended to put up 300 such hoardings in each Lok Sabha constituency. "We have launched a special phone number (800 700 6003) inviting a missed call on this by anyone who believes Majithia is involved in drug trade and Badals (Parkash Singh and Sukhbir) were shielding him," said AAP spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira. The party claims a tremendous response as more than 1.16 lakh people dialled the number within hours.

War of words

Some days ago, a war of words between Punjab Congress President Captain Amarinder Singh and AAP MP from Sangrur, Bhagwant Mann, was on.

Amarinder had taken a pot shot at Mann for his liquor consumption saying he even goes to Parliament reeking of alcohol and accused him of maligning Punjab's image.

Mann hit back, calling Amarinder 'Ghajini' (the central character of a Bollywood film starring Amir Khan) for forgetting his family's accounts in foreign banks. He said Amarinder was suffering from selective amnesia.

The Akalis are not to be left behind in this game. The SAD president has reportedly called AAP leaders 'Naxalites' and 'ISIS'. AAP said such things show that the SAD and the Congress are on a 'frustrated mode'.

Name calling

At a programme in Ajitwal in Moga district last month, Sukhbir Singh Badal went to the extent of equating AAP and the Congress with the British East India Company, out to rob Punjab of its prosperity.

In response, AAP leader Sucha Singh Chhotepur said the chief minister's son seemed to have lost his mind. The Congress and the Akalis have regularly been calling AAP leaders radicals and Khalistanis.

Recently, SAD secretary Daljit Singh Cheema said it was unfortunate that Amarinder was playing into the hands of those who wanted to divide the Sikh community.

"Your behaviour now is reminiscent of the support you and your party gave towards Khalistani elements to hold a supposed Sarbat Khalsa programme last year. Your statements now also indicate that you want to divide Sikhs so that the Congress party, which is being getting continuously rejected, can better its prospects in Punjab."

The rallies being addressed by the leaders have the latter coming up with new terminology for the rivals every time.

At a recent Congress function in Phillaur, former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal lambasted the SAD-BJP government in the state and comparing them to Ahmed Shah Abdali.

"Ahmed Shah Abdali ne ni lutya hona desh jina Badal saab ne panj wari chief minister ban ke Punjab nu lutya," (Ahmed Shah Abdali may not have looted the country as much as Badal has looted during his five terms as the chief minister) Bhattal commented on Badal.

Late last week it was the Congress MLA Amrinder Singh Raja Warring lamenting before cameras about why Badal was not kicking the bucket. He reportedly backtracked only after the clip went viral.

A study on expletives

Use of expletives has always been part and parcel of the Punjabi discourse.

Kapoor Kaur Jaggi, who now lives in Australia, has conducted a study on Punjabi abuses.

She says, "They are reflecting anger, negative attitude, frustration and may even feel powerful. This language also in some cases reflects illiterate behaviour. They use this language under tense or abnormal circumstances and when they feel it is necessary such as to show anger, stress, satire or in a funny situation."

Bir Devinder Singh, a former Congress leader who is known for his political speeches in Punjab, has a different take on the issue.

"Unfortunately, idea-based polity is disappearing. The polity space is going into nothingness. Politics today is commercialised, communalised and criminalised. In such a scenario, abuse is there. Since there is no value-based polity, there is no ethos emerging. It is all driven by vested interests."

The former speaker of Punjab Assembly is remembered for his verbal duels with the towering Akali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

His quote, "kaddu di sabzi te Jathedaran di yaari rehndi beswaad hai" (preparation of pumpkin and friendship of Akalis remains tasteless, no matter what ingredient you put) is still remembered by many.

But those were times when the political attacks were derived from the rustic life of rural Punjab. This is no longer the case now.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

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Also Read: SADist regime in Punjab? Vishwas targetted, Zee taken off air for attacking Akalis

First published: 1 August 2016, 12:48 IST
 
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