Tomorrow is the D-Day when it comes to Bengal. After nearly month long campaign the election process is finally starting here. It will be a long tedious schedule with 42 constituencies having polls in five phases. Tomorrow will be the turn of 4 constituencies in North Bengal. The ball is about to be rolled but it is probably a good time to go down the memory lane just before the start. Dedicated readers of this blog will remember earlier we did an article on terminologies and cliches used often during campaign in Bengal.
Today let me introduce you all with some of the quintessential terms which used to be part and parcel of Election Day but will probably now sound foreign to the Beiber and Taylor Swift generation of Bongs.
This is probably as ingenious to Bengal as anything on this side of the Great Wall of China. Decoding it is like finishing Ulysses (I googled hardest book to finish!) i.e almost impossible but the practice was in vogue even a decade back. Scientific rigging was a term coined by the opponents to emphasize the malpractices of the Communists. Part fact, part fiction the folklore continues to endure. If anybody goes by the Rightist version, the comrades with their red books mastered the science of rigging to make it an art form. It ensured candidates winning elections by margin of over 5 lakhs, a feat yet to be matched. A more cogent analysis is that Left with their unique booth management skill could bring their voters in. Sometimes they indulged in booth jamming without any apparent ruckus. It is a code I can assure, Robert Langdon would have been proud to crack.
Today the likes of Subramanian Swamy speaks of EVM tampering , armchair computer scientists in Twitter provide you with Youtube links on how it is eminently possible. But the past was so much simple. All it required was Hulk style thrashing of opponents polling agent and then relentlessly giving chappa vote on the ballot. The word chappa comes from chap, which means giving mark on the ballot. Now those ballots have been replaced by EVM’s and geeky wizards have replaced gundays if conspiracy theories are to be believed.
Peto is a common Bengali slang for crude bomb. Just like in the 90’s there was a concept of sending a pinch hitter in ODI’s to up the ante, peto charge was a similar shortcut method to disrupt opponents game plan. Peto was charged i.e crude bomb thrown when ground reports from political dadas showed that opponents are ahead and desperate measure is the call of the hour. Thanks to electronic media peto charge has now become obsolete in big cities.
Yeah, you guessed it right. It is really a term borrowed from football. It is like keeping a close watch on possible miscreants from the rival party and to be ready for any action with the “boys”. Man marking is still very prevalent albeit in a much more clandestine way.
This is something I have heard from my earlier generations. In simpler times, when middle class was actually aam aadmi, political parties used to give free ride to voters to reach the booth. It was something which the common folks enjoyed eminently. Now with strict EC guidelines, such free rides have been deemed illegal. All what one can look forward is posing for a selfie with the inked finger!!
As it is evident most of these special terms have something or other to do with electoral malpractices. After the reforms taken by T.N. Seshan elections in India have become much cleaner. We are not complaining as long as we have nostalgia to fall back on!!