‘Ben-Gaulis’ had the last laugh
Bengali art, wit and humour were at their devastating best during the election and after the results were declared
Among the most popular social media posts shared widely last Sunday after results of the assembly election were declared were these two:
‘Jai Kali Kalkattawali / Chhappan inch ki Hawa Nikali’
(Hail Kolkata’s goddess Kali/ Punctured 56-inch’s ego clearly)
‘Jai Shri (R)Aam/ Ebare chuse chuse khaan’
(‘Jai Shri (R)aam/ Go and suck on the succulent mango)
The reference to Ram and Aam indicated how BJP had weaponized religion and turned ‘Jai Shri Ram’ into a war-cry. People also did not seem to have forgotten the famous question put to Prime Minister Modi by actor Akshay Kumar in 2019 when the actor asked if the PM liked sucking on the mango. Hence the cry ‘Jai Shri Aam’.
A never-ending flow of limericks, doggerels, memes, cartoons and comic strips started flooding social media as soon as early trends indicated the rout of the BJP. The Prime Minister’s jibe during the Bengal campaign in mocking Mamata Banerjee with ‘Khela Shesh’ (The game is over) in response to TMC’s campaign song, ‘Khela Hobe’ (The game is on) also reappeared after the results came out, this time as a taunt directed at the PM.
To rub salt to the wound, people gleefully celebrated the crushing of ‘Mosha’(mosquito) as Modi-Shah duo were described. In daily conversations they were also routinely referred to as Jogai-Madhai - the popular Bengali stereotype of two erratic and mischievous, if not sinful, brothers. A more risqué take referred to Modi’s mispronunciation of the word Padda (lotus) and calling for people to stamp on Pode (bum or buttocks). The PM had merely asked for a stamp on the buttock but ungrateful Bengalis delivered a kick, was said in mock horror.
BJP’s disconnect with Bengal and Bengalis, and BJP leaders’ ignorance about Bengali icons and culture, was evident throughout the campaign. Gaffes with names, places, historical dates and references and Santiniketan (not Shantiniketan as BJP leaders and the media from the North spelt) described by them as Rabindranath Tagore’s place of birth was the last straw. Modi’s flowing beard, interpreted as an attempt to look like Gurudev, was mercilessly caricatured. If there was wisdom in beard, wouldn’t goats be wise, asked the ‘wits’.
With TV anchors and some BJP leaders righteously questioning why Bengalis called ‘Tagore’ as ‘Thakur’, a poem was swiftly written and dedicated to ‘Parody Thakur’. The first four lines were:
“Where the mind is without wisdom and the face fixed towards camera;
Where knowledge is put on the back-burner,
Where the country has been broken up into fragments by narrow prejudicial walls
Where words come out from the depth of the IT cell…”
Cartoons lampooned PM’s Mann Ki Baat, suggesting that Covid patients did not need oxygen if they wanted to listen to the PM’s radio talk. Every tweet by Kangana ‘Run Out’ was trolled in Bengali.
And since last Sunday many Facebook walls carried the following epitaph:
Sacrificed the Nation
For winning a state
(The writer is a Public Policy, Reputation and Brand consultant, columnist and author)