Bamboos and backsides: Mamata's anti-BJP language shocks The Telegraph

Mamata Banerjee has a new weapon against BJP leaders who dare to make facile claims about her party - and they are mutant bamboos. Yes, it is true.

In a rally in North Bengal, the West Bengal chief minister said the following: "Bamboo jangal-e hoy, ghar-baari toiri-te kaaje laage. Aar jaane na, bamboo dite-dite bamboo jokhon taara kore na shobaike, tokhon je kothaye jaabe… raakhar jayega thaakbe na… (Bamboo grows in forests and is used to to build homes. However, when the bamboos turn around and start chasing people, there will be nowhere to run...)"

Mamata Banerjee at Jalpaiguri. PTI.

Mamata Banerjee at Jalpaiguri. PTI.

Now, do the said rebel bamboos conjure images straight out of a Final Destination movie? Or better still a Ramsay brothers horror film where bamboos, like other harmless objects, are turned into scary agents of revenge? If the West Bengal CM's quote does have a similar effect, you can't be blamed.

Actually, you're not alone. West Bengal's most circulated English newspaper The Telegraphwas probably so scarred by the said image that they decided to devote one-fourth of the paper's front page to an image of what they called a 'bamboo curtain'. The paper, now a relentless critic of the Mamata Banerjee government, also warned its readers that if they indeed had an appetite for Banerjee's comment, they should  check out the paper's 'Bengal' section.

The Telegraph's 'bamboo curtain'.

The Telegraph's 'bamboo curtain'.

Readers were also advised, albeit sarcastically, that one needed to be an adult to read Banerjee's comments. The West Bengal CM's comment must have hit the paper really hard for them to come out with a condemnation as strong as that, considering they didn't react that vehemently when Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's 'Haramzadon' comment was making waves in the national media.

While restraint is not the first quality that comes to mind when you mention Mamata Banerjee, this extraordinary outburst didn't come from nowhere. Days after Amit Shah made a chest-thumping debut in Kolkata and threatened to uproot Banerjee from her playing field, a minister from his own party proved his claims wrong in the parliament.

Shah had alleged that the Saradha scam money has been used to fund terror like the blast in Burdwan. However, minister Jitendra Singh said in the Parliament yesterday that investigation has suggested no such link. Banerjee, obviously flush from the new victory, went all guns blazing at the BJP.

“…Shanti na thakle kono kichhu hoyna… nijera korte paaren-ni, jaara korchhe, sarakkhon taader pichhone ki kore bamboo deya jaaye, taar chinta kore berachhe… (Nothing is possible without peace… they could do nothing themselves, and are now all the time looking for ways to stick a bamboo up the backside of those who are trying to do something)," Mamata ranted at the Jalpaiguri rally.

While Mamata's rhetoric has never been remotely refined, the new comment elevates colloquial slang and invective to mindboggling heights. A chief minister using the kind of language that is usually associated with drunken brawls for example, is hardly something that should be dismissed. People with better vocabulary in the Trinamool can just thank their stars that the CM referred to her own party while using the bamboo analogy, and didn't threaten her rival with the same!

In terms of quality and respectability, Banerjee's comment is almost as obnoxious as BJP's Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti's Ramzaon-Haramzadon one. However, while some of us stir and condemn such language, it is least likely that a section of the masses will not be offended. After all, a leader like them, could well be a leader who swears like them!

And a vitriolic rhetoric, coloured with popular vernacular invective is quickly equated to machismo in our political narrative. The more abrasive a political figure is, the more heroic he/she is considered in the eyes of the voting masses, history has proved.

Firstpost editor Sandipan Sharma pointed out in his article: "In the highly-competitive and cluttered politics of UP, the easiest shortcut to fame is a bit of notoriety and a lot of minority bashing. Niranjan Jyoti is simply pursuing the BJP model that catapulted some of her predecessors into the big league."

The same applies to Mamata Banerjee, somewhat. The bamboo comment, anyone who has followed her politics would say, is right up her alley. At several times, the fact that she speaks like a college rowdy endears her to voters across classes. The use of invective in her case is not only considered a proof of her gut, but also evidence of her unpretentious nature to voters in Bengal.

The new lows that the language of Indian politics is hitting every second day shouldn't be held against the political class alone perhaps. The reason that they get away with crass language is mostly because many of their voters find nothing objectionable in it. And that is seriously disappointing.


Published Date: Dec 04, 2014 04:10 pm | Updated Date: Dec 04, 2014 04:14 pm


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