Changing Slogans in the of Festival Democracy
We are in the midst of the Festival of Democracy – the ongoing parliamentary elections in India. The media has been fully over-powered by the political players and the charged up audience. The money and muscle power is fully in play in the road shows and public meetings and at the road shows. The campaigns havestooped so low to bad mouthing without any scruples. The new slogans – Chokidar Hi Chor Hai – Mein Bhi ChokidarHoon – Kaamdar Vs Naamdar–Ali Vs Bajrangbali etc. are raising dust and din and is contributing to the political temperature throughout the country.
The Outlook magazine has brought out in its latest issue the subject of “Slogans Zindabad – The changing poll rhetoric in making of modern India. It prompted me to write something on the subject. Before moving to Delhi in the early 1970s for my bread and butter, I was keenly watching and witnessing the political slugfest as a young student and observer in Jalandhar. My family was politically informed and alive with a focus on Ambedkar and dalit politics in the region. Some of the prevalent slogans and famous quotes, of those days, are still engraved in my mind and memory. Let me share some of these with a view to update ourselves.
I still cherish the poetic lines, referring to Babasaheb Ambedkar, of a local dalit leader Charan Dass Nidhadak – Jhanda Chuk Bagawat Da Tu Baghi Hona Das Giya (You taught us to raise the flag of revolt). Yet another, regretting the inherit inequality in the society, the rustic Nidhadak’s assertion – RabbaDekhda Mere Insaaf Tanin; Je Mein RabTeTuChamarHunda. In the 1960s, the public road shows, famously called Jaloos, used to come alive with slogans viz. – DhanAurDharti Batt KeRahegi; Raat Andheri CuttKeRahegi, Jo Sarkar Nikammi Hai; Woh Sarkar Badalni Hai. The election campaigns will coin interesting slogans – Jhandianwala Peer – It was coined by Congress leader Master Gurbanta Singh’s team to castigate and ridicule his opponent Piara Ram Dhanowali with reference to his professed support from various parties like the Communists and Jan Sangh etc. and carrying their flags on his vehicles and offices. Hathi (Elephant) was the symbol of the Republican Party. One of the local activists, Hans Raj Bhukha, was the supporter of the Republican Party. His father-in-law named Magar Ram was living in London and the mother-in –law named Atti was back home in Jalandhar. Hans Raj Bhukha was a poet of sorts and coined an interesting slogan which I remember exactly – Magar Keh Giya Atti Nu; Vote Pauna Hathi Nu (Magar before going to London advised his wife Atti to vote the Elephant). Lahori Ram Balley contested against Sardar Swaran Singh from Jalandhar parliamentary constituency in the mid 1960’s and lost. There was an interesting slogan – Lahori Ram Balley; Sandukadi Reh Gai Khali (Balley’s Ballot Box turned to be empty).
With the changing scenario, the tone and tenor of slogans also changed. In the 1970s, Babu Kanshi Ram appeared on the political firmament of north India like a hurricane. He graduated from BAMCEF and DS4 to BSP with imaginative slogans – Jitni Jis Ki Sankhya Bhari; Utni Us Ki Baghidari (Share in power inaccordance with the population), Bharat Ki Majboori Hai; Kanshi Ram Jaroori Hai (to come with Kanshi Ram is the fait accompli of India). Succumbing to his radical stance, Kanshi Ram coined a sharp slogan – Tilak, TarazuaurTalwar; Inko Maro Jutte Char (Caste based system should be kicked out) – Brahmin, Thakur Bania Chhor; Baki Hain DS4 (Minorities, Dalits and Backwards should get united against the Upper castes) – Babasaheb Ka Kaam Adhura; Kanshi Ram Karenge Poora (Unfulfilled work of Babasaheb Ambedkar will be completed by Kanshi Ram). The successor and protégé of Kanshi Ram changed track to cater to the changing needs and tried to bring along the upper castes and gave a new moderate slogan – Hathi Nahin Ganesh Hai; Brahma Vishnu Mahesh Hai (The Elephant represents Lord Ganesha and the Hindu iconic hierarchy). It is said that politics is a game of possibilities. There is no permanent friendship or enmity in politics. SP of Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP of Maywati have come together, after long and bitter days of political and social tussle and animosity, to give a fight to PM Narendra Modi and BJP in the on-going parliamentary elections in 2019.
Aya Rams and Gaya Rams of current dispensation like Navjot Singh Sidhu, Udit Raj, Harinder Singh Khalsa, Hans Raj Hans among others tend to sing with the so-called Sufi performer, frankly a negation of the lofty philosophy of Sufism, Hans’ “Dil Modi Modi Ho Gya; Hun Ki Karye Ki Karye”
Slogans add to the attractions of the Festival of Democracy, No doubt. But it will be known only on May 23 whether “Dil Modi Modi Modi Hota Hai Jan Phir Dil Totte Totte Hota Hai” – Heart beats as Modi Modi or gets broken into pieces.