Chandigarh : If the opposition Congress can unleash ‘Jeeta and Jaggi’, the Shiromani Akali Dal can hit back with ‘Jhootha and Thaggi’. After all, the electoral battle for Punjab’s 117 assembly seats was never meant to be without colour.
As the state goes for polls Jan 30, a major bout of mudslinging has been unleashed among the major political players in the state. The fight between the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government has now come down to cartoons.
‘Jeeta and Jaggi’, which are common nicknames for men across Punjab’s rural belt, are fictional characters created by the thinktank of the Congress’ publicity wing for the forthcoming assembly polls.
Every day, in newspaper advertisements and FM radio ads, these characters ask questions to each other and end up giving answers to embarrass the Akali Dal-BJP government in the state.
However, an advertisement featuring ‘Jeeta and Jaggi’, in which the figures of setting up of universities and colleges in Punjab under the Akali Dal-BJP government were questioned based on a newspaper report, seems to have fallen flat this week with the ruling combine disputing the claim through their ‘Jhootha and Thaggi’ campaign.
The Akali Dal even officially complained to the Election Commission Wednesday blaming the Congress for its “factually incorrect, mischievous and false advertisements targeted at the Akali Dal with the sole purpose of confusing the electorate at this crucial juncture”.
The party also sought “exemplary action against the Congress party for repeatedly flouting the directives of the EC despite earlier warnings”.
The Election Commission had to intervene earlier this month after the Akalis complained of another ad campaign in which the word ‘kaka’ was used.
The Commission had to direct the Punjab Congress not to use the word after its media monitoring committee found it objectionable.
The apparent reference through the ‘kaka’ ads was to Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal. Son of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir is called ‘kakaji’ by his father.
“We asked the Congress party not to issue the advertisements using the word kaka,” Punjab’s special chief electoral officer Usha R. Sharma said here.
However, not everyone is against the political mudslinging.
Satirist-comedian Jaspal Bhatti, in a lighter vein, urged the Commission to allow leaders and contesting candidates to indulge in “mudslinging and even character assassination to some extent”.
Bhatti, who incidentally is the brand icon of the Commission for these polls to urge voters to exercise their franchise, even submitted a communication to the Punjab chief electoral officer last week, seeking that mud-slinging and character assassination be allowed.
Bhatti said : “These things will help the voters to make up their mind in choosing the candidate who is less corrupt than others.”
“Sometimes choice becomes difficult when two rival candidates are looters of the same level. When candidates dig up each other’s scandals, it provides entertainment to the public and they get involved in the democratic process with greater interest,” Bhatti said.
He pointed out that the otherwise “dry elections” will get a splash of colour.
“It is only in the election days that those misdeeds and secret properties of the candidates surface naturally before public which otherwise are hard to dig out even by CBI and the intelligence bureau. Cartoons and parodies against rivals help the creativity of artists, writers and singers,” he said.