RSVP, toffee, jijaji…elections add to political lexicon

By Prashant Sood,

New Delhi: “RSVP model”, “toffee model”, “AK-49”, “news traders”, “jijaji”, “maa-beta government”, “shehzada”,… the Lok Sabha slugfest has contributed much to the political lexicon, spicing it up but also causing a fair degree of heartburn. These expressions are unlikely to be forgotten in a hurry.

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BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is way ahead in hitting out against his adversaries. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has also framed new epithets but these appear to be few and far between.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal has thrown up a few to enhance his image as an anti-corruption crusader.

This is perhaps the first Lok Sabha election where tea sellers have hogged some limelight due to Modi’s references to his origins as a tea-seller. The Bharatiya Janata Party has sought to capitalise on Modi’s humble origins by launching “chai pe charcha (discussion over tea)”. TV anchors are also peppering their election shows by talking to people at teashops – a traditional neighbourhood hub for political gossip.

The 2014 Lok Sabha elections have also seen a thrust on marketing and branding, terms which are otherwise identified with management. It is also an election in which political attacks have involved the names of some leading industralists. The elections have seen “personalised” accusations from leading contenders. Issues of women’s empowerment and security also appear to be more in focus during the campaign than in earlier general elections.

Many of the new political epithets have arisen from the debate around the Gujarat model of development – one of the central themes of the Lok Sabha election. While Modi has tom-tomed his model of development, many parties, including the Congress, Communist Party of India-Marxist, AIADMK, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party, have slammed it.

Rahul Gandhi has termed the Gujarat model a “toffee model”, saying it has benefited only one industrialist in the state and ignored the interests of the farmers and the poor.

Gandhi said at an election rally that in Gujarat, land belonging to the poor was “sold at one rupee per metre” while people can get only a toffee for that amount.

Gandhi also used “20-20 match” to hit out at Modi over the Gujarat model. “They have given 45,000 acres of land to one single person. This is their 20-20 match, not ours,” Gandhi said in an interview.

He also compared the BJP’s claims about victory in the elections with a balloon, saying it will be deflated like in 2004 and 2009. The Congress leader said that the BJP was good in marketing but it is the results that count in the end.

Gandhi also targeted Modi over his remarks that he wanted to be the “chowkidar (watchman)” of the country, saying that he has given the key of Gujarat to an industrialist.

Modi has sought to reply to each barb thrown at him by Gandhi and has often alluded to the Congress leader as a prince.

“Shahzada would be busy with his balloons and toffees…the nation wants mature politics and wants to win as many trophies,” Modi said in an election speech.

Modi has also sought to pitchfork his model of development as a mark of his ability as an administrator.

Modi, who faced accusations from the Congress of hiding his marital status after he filed his nomination papers from Vadodara, has used the controversy over alleged property deals of Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra to repeatedly hit out at the Congress first family.

Modi has referred to Rahul Gandhi’s brother-in-law Robert Vadra as “jijaji” in some of his speeches.

“They ask for RSVP in big functions. In India’s politics, we have RSVP too and a media house threw light on their activities…Rahul, Sonia, Vadra and Priyanka… this is the RSVP model. Rahulji, you talk of the Gujarat model but the nation wants to know this model,” Modi said at an election rally.

RSVP, a French phrase, is a request for response from an invited person and is commonly mentioned in invitations.

Modi has termed the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government as “ma-beta (mother-son) government” and the Samajwadi Party government in Uttar Pradesh as ” baap-beta (father-son) government.”

Modi coined “news traders” to refer to mediapersons who, according to him, have focussed on his meetings with industrialists and not his government’s work in villages. In another interview he said that news traders had sought to downplay criticism of rising menace of terrorism by the opposition parties.

Modi’s reference to Kejriwal as “AK-49” appeared as much an effort to take a dig at the AAP leader over his rapid-fire style of accusations as an attempt to revive memory of a controversial statement about Kashmir by a senior AAP leader.

It was also a reference to Kerjiwal’s 49-day government after winning the Delhi assembly elections.

Modi has also peppered his speeches with words like “divya bharat (unique India)” and “bhavya bharat (Spectacular India)”.

He has also sought to link the Gujarat model with “technology upgradation and marketing and branding”.

Kejriwal in his interviews and speeches has talked about “asul (principles)” “rajniti me bhuchal (political earthquake)” , “sachai (truth)” and “imandari (honesty)”.

Kejriwal is pitted against Modi in Varanasi.

(Prashant Sood can be contacted at [email protected])