Chandigarh, Jan 27: "Dusht" (wicked), "kuttanga" (I'll thrash), "lootere" (robbers), "topiwalas" (a reference to AAP workers), "meesana" (crooked or cunning people): This is what top politicians, across party lines, are openly hurling at each other in the run-up to the February 4 assembly elections in Punjab.
With the stakes being high for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine, which has been in power since 2007, the opposition Congress and new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the state is witnessing triangular contests on almost all the 117 assembly seats. And, the political lingo of the leaders is stooping to a new low as the pitch of the election din gets higher.
Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh certainly leads the pack. Amarinder, who is contesting against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from the latter's traditional assembly seat of Lambi in Muktsar district, recently vowed to give "dusht" Badal a "massive thrashing in Lambi". "Baabe nuh Lambi vich kuttanga," (I will thrash the old man in Lambi) declares Amarinder at his political gatherings, amid thunderous applause from the people.
Amarinder, nearly 75 years old, shows scant regard for Badal, 89, the country's oldest serving chief minister, while talking about the latter. Other words used by Amarinder during his speeches are "lootere" for the Badal family and "jhootha" (liar), "topiwala" and "meesana" for AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
This is not the first time Amarinder is using such words. Before the 2012 assembly elections, he had openly warned rebel Congress candidates that there would be a "qattal-e-aam" (carnage) against them if they did not withdraw from the fray against the official candidates. Some rebels actually caused the defeat of Congress candidates in the previous elections.
The Congress' new political find, cricketer-turned-politician and TV personality Navjot Singh Sidhu has coming out all guns blazing against the Badal family for "ruining Punjab". This "saviour" of Punjab, who hardly showed up in the state in the past 13 years, is aiming to "Save Punjab" in just around a fortnight before the polls.
Sidhu had, when he was in the BJP, described then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a "pappu (good for nothing) PM" and "anarth shastri"(an agent of destruction) during the 2012 assembly polls. Sidhu is now part of the same Congress.
Former Army chief and ex-Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Gen J.J. Singh, who is pitted against Amarinder Singh for the Patiala-Urban seat, was recently caught on video telling Akali Dal leaders that they should "hit below the belt". He used cuss words in Punjabi during the meeting. AAP leader and Lok Sabha MP Bhagwant Mann has warned the people against falling into the trap of "nonsense allurements" by Akali Dal president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal.
"Going by the track record of Sukhbir Badal, one can assume that he is just to rise to next level of cheating and bluffing", Mann said, referring to Sukhbir's offer to help Punjabis buy land in other countries. "Abraham Lincoln might have had people like Sukhbir Badal in his mind while penning the quote 'You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time'," Mann said.
Union minister and Sukhbir's wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, too has been attacking Amarinder and Sidhu without showing much regard for their age. "Punjab is not a laughter show stage where he (Sidhu) can make tall and false claims," she has been telling the people. "Newly-born Congress leader Navjot Sidhu is using dirty dialogue and cheap language against the political opponents. He himself is good for nothing," Harsimrat pointed out.
Sukhbir Badal has described Sidhu as a "paid employee" of the Congress. The Akalis and BJP have been attacking Sidhu for "changing his mother" after he switched from the BJP to the Congress. Amarinder may now be calling Sidhu his "son" but a few weeks ago, he was calling him names and his Awaaz-e-Punjab front a "tonga party". AAP state convener Gurpreet Singh Waraich wants to know from Badal the tricks to become rich.
"People of Punjab wanted to know the formula and it would be great service to society if Badals can give some tips to become rich like Harsimrat Badal whose overall assets have risen by Rs 15 crore from Rs 14 crore in 2012 to Rs 29.5 crore in 2017. She is probably the only woman politician of Punjab or North India who owns jewelry worth Rs crore, even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has restricted the possession of gold jewelry up to 500 grams only," Waraich pointed out.