If you have ever watched an election unfold—on TV or in person—you would be well aware, what a skilled bayanbaaz (master of rhetoric) the Indian politician can prove to be. Of course, there are examples galore of when such skills came in handy trashing opponents. Many pithy lines or epithets have made it beyond the confines of Indian politics. Turncoats have been called ‘Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram’, ever since Congress leader Rao Birendra Singh reinducted Gaya Lal, a Haryana MLA, into the party in 1967—when he had switched allegiance thrice in a fortnight—saying, “Gaya Ram is now Aaya Ram”. In a nutshell, pummelling with words has a rich history in Indian politics.
Some of this was on display these last couple of days. Congress president Sonia Gandhi sparked off a round of trashing with prime minister Narendra Modi by calling him “hawabaaz” (one who make tall claims), claiming he has failed to redeem his poll promises. The PM’s stinging retort was that it was quite rich of the “hawalabaaz” (corrupt persons)—in an obvious reference to the string of scams that happened in the UPA regime—to seek accountability from him, despite his government having plugged leakages in many schemes. It became an all-out slugfest with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s riposte, calling Modi “dagabaaz” (betrayer). In the midst of it all, BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha added his bit to the flyting, saying it was all “jumlebaazi” (poll rhetoric). Meanwhile, the common man waits for some jaanbaaz (spirited) leaders from the Opposition and the government to come together in the interest of governance, dexterity in slagging notwithstanding.