In Punjab's poll heat, cuss words dominate (Election Special)
Alien, liar, feudal, maverick, mercenary, goonda (goon), chor (thief), cunning man, hypocrite and ruthless - these may not be the words that have much to do with politics, but the heat of the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab has made the usage of these words part of the political vocabulary here.
Leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance and the opposition Congress are freely using cuss words against their opponents to strike a chord with voters in the state.
When Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, brother-in-law of Punjab's powerful Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, recently made the remark "dhaun napp deyange" (we will hold him by the neck) against Amarinder Singh, it led to a political war of words.
Amarinder Singh claimed that Majithia, in his "outrageous outburst", in fact, said: "If Badal ordered him (Majithia), he would chop off my (Amarinder Singh's) head and put it at his (Badal's) feet."
Amarinder Singh, who is contesting the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat against BJP heavy-weight Arun Jaitley in a bitter, high-profile election, questioned Jaitley's silence on Majithia's remark.
The Congress and Amarinder Singh often refer to Majithia's "goonda-ism" remark.
The Akali Dal complained to the state Election Commission after former chief minister and Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal called Akali Dal candidate for the Anandpur Sahib seat, Prem Singh Chandumajra, a "chor" (thief) and "daaku" (dacoit).
The biggest verbal fight is understandably going on between Amarinder Singh and Jaitley.
Amarinder Singh has made it known to Jaitley that he should not expect any leniency from him.
After initially calling Jaitley an "outsider" in Amritsar, he called the BJP leader an "alien". Jaitley hit back, saying that Amarinder Singh, who belongs to the royal family of Patiala, had a "feudal" mindset.
Claiming that Jaitley had become "desperate and frustrated", Amarinder Singh said: "He (Jaitley) is a man who has hidden behind his mask and always routed his entry through the backdoor."
"Ask any Punjabi, as you are alien to this place, as to who is feudal, me or your patrons who have monopolised every business, be it the liquor, the sand, the cable, the transport business, besides presiding over the illicit drug trade through Bikram Majithia," Amarinder Singh said.
In his blog, Jaitley said Singh was lowering the level of debate and added that a suitable response would be given - byte by byte.
Singh responded: "So far the only thing Jaitely has done is continuous cribbing and complaining that I did this and I did that and particularly that I am not talking nicely to him."
"I have a habit of calling a spade a spade which, even if I wish, I can't change. This is just the beginning; he (Jaitley) has a long way to go till April 30. It reminds me of famous Urdu poet Mir Taqi Mir's, aibtida-e ishq hai rota hai kya, aage aage dekhiye, hota hai kya...'," Singh said.
Taking on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Amarinder Singh openly calls him a "liar" and a "cunning man". State Congress president Pratap Singh Bajwa has also termed Badal as the "biggest hypocrite, rank opportunist and a ruthless politician".
Punjab Chief Electoral Officer V.K. Singh, in a recent communication to presidents of all political parties, advised leaders and all candidates to abide by the Model Code of Conduct and "refrain from use of unbecoming language or adopt postures which are uncalled for in the election campaigning".
The poll officer said his office had "received numerous complaints regarding the use of disrespectful, undignified and intimidating language by many political leaders while delivering speeches during campaigning".
He pointed out that many leaders were resorting to mud-slinging and personal attacks against one another.
As the temperature and political heat in Punjab rises over the next few days, the sound barrier on language is surely going to boom many times.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted email@example.com)
(Posted on 14-04-2014)