Name-calling in its subtle and not-so-subtle forms is a well-known Punjabi trait, but political leaders in Punjab are setting a new trend -- taking the political vocabulary against their opponents to a new low.
"Sukha Gapodi", "Bunti & Babli", "Mental case," "Baloongra", "Khotta Sikka" and "Madaari" are a few examples of the lingo being used by Punjab's politicians against one another.
Punjab's Minister for Tourism, Culture and Local Government Navjot Singh Sidhu, who virtually leads the name-calling brigade, gets into a no-holds barred blabber when referring to Shiromani Akali Dal president and former Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
"Sukha Gapodi", "Gapodi of the Century" (super gossi and gossiper of the century) and other such names are doled out for Badal by Sidhu, a cricketer-turned-TV star-turned politician, almost on a daily basis. Sidhu is certainly not doing justice to the office he holds.
There is no love lost between the two leaders.
Badal pays back in equal measure, often referring to Sidhu as a "mental case', "pagal banda' (mad-man) and even a "madaari", or street performer.
Last week, Majithia called Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal (Sukhbir's estranged first cousin) and Sidhu as "Bunti & Babli" -- a reference to the Bollywood film starring Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee where they play a con couple.
Majithia also called another Punjab minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, a "khotta sikka" (counterfeit coin).
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh are facing a defamation case filed by Majithia in Amritsar after they labelled him a "drug-lord" in the run-up to the Punjab assembly polls last February.
Amarinder has been linked to the ruthless Mughal ruler, Aurangzeb.
In the run-up to the assembly polls also, words like "dusht" (wicked), "kuttanga" (thrash him), "lootere" (robbers), "topiwalas" (a reference to AAP cadres) and "meesana" (crooked or cunning person) were openly used by the political leaders against one another.
Amarinder, who unsuccessfully contested against then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from the latter's traditional assembly constituency of Lambi in Muktsar district, had vowed to give a thrashing to "dusht" Badal, who is over 90 years old.
"Baabe nunh Lambi vich kuttanga," (I will thrash the old man in Lambi) Amarinder used to say, amid thunderous applause from the crowd at his political gatherings.
Amarinder, 76, during his speeches openly used words like "lootere" for the Badal family and "jhootha" (liar), "topiwala" and "meesana" for Kejriwal.
Before the 2012 assembly elections, Amarinder had openly warned Congress rebel candidates that there would be a "qattal-e-aam" (carnage) against them if they did not withdraw from the fray against the official candidates.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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