‘Khela hobe’ to ‘khela sesh’ — it’s season of slogans

Smart catchlines coined by Trinamool, BJP and Samyukta Morcha have caught the attention of the voters in the State

While addressing a public meeting in West Bengal’s Purulia district, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday told her party supporters to greet each other with ‘joy Bangla’. “When someone calls you over telephone, greet them with Joy Bangla,” Ms. Banerjee said.

With only 48 hours left for West Bengal to go to polls, these slogans are setting the tone for the elections in the State. ‘joy Bangla’ is the Trinamool Congress’ counter to the BJP’s ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chant. Even though the BJP leadership, including Union Home Minister Amit Shah, claims that the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ chant in West Bengal is different from what it meant during the Ram Mandir movement, the inherent religiosity in it is undoubtedly aimed at dividing the electorate on communal lines. The Trinamool Congress has responded by raising the issue of Bengal pride with ‘joy Bangla’.

The most catchy slogan that has emerged in this high-pitched election is ‘khela hobe’ (game will be played) coined by the Trinamool Congress. The slogan caught on after it was raised a few times by heavyweight Trinamool leader from Birbhum, Anubrata Mondal. Mr. Mondal, who is known to speak in political innuendos, gave this slogan a menacing undertone.

‘Khela hobe’ has become such a rage across the State that even Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s speeches are woven around it. “We are going to play such a game that we will throw the BJP out of the stadium,” Ms. Banerjee is often heard at her public meetings. During the campaigns, all the references to sports and “bowling out” the Opposition have their roots in the slogan “khela hobe”.

The BJP had to counter this this slogan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi came up with a suitable retort. “Trinamool is saying khela hobe. Now it is khela sesh (the game is over) for Trinamool. Ebar vikas hobe (now there will be development),” the Prime Minister has repeatedly said in his rallies.

The Trinamool Congress has put a lot of emphasis on the slogan ‘Bangla nijer mein kei chai’ (Bengal wants its own daughter) as a strategy to win over women voters. The BJP’s emphasis on development is reflected in its slogan to build a ‘sonar Bangla (golden Bengal)’.

The Left parties, which are contesting the polls in an alliance with the Congress and the Indian Secular Front under the banner Samyukta Morcha, have put more emphasis on remixing popular Bengali pop songs to spread their message. The CPI(M) is trying to reach out to the young electorate by selecting young new faces as candidates. The remixed songs have not only got the attention of the electorate but have also become quite a hit on social media.

The Congress in its poll manifesto announced its party’s slogan — “Ebar aar phool na, ebar kono bhul na ( no flower this time, no mistake this time)”. The slogan is an attack on the symbols of both the Trinamool Congress (two flowers on a stalk) and the BJP (lotus).

Long after affect

Slogans, graffito and songs relating to polls are crucial to any election in West Bengal and their echoes can be felt decades after. The Left parties’ slogan of the 1970s —“Congresser kalo haath gudie dao ( grind the evil hand of the Congress)” has come to haunt them 50 years later when they are allying with the same party.

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