Mamata's Pronunciation, Smriti Irani's Grammar: Opposition's Jibes Show Zero Connection With Real India
Take CPI(M) secretary Surya Kanta Mishra for example, who recently poked some crude fun at Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. Making use of the micro-blogging site Twitter, Mishra tried to act "cool" by bullying Banerjee's accent and English pronunciation.
Image credit: PTI
Schoolyard bullies can be daunting. But when they are in the political arena during election season, they can turn particularly vicious and classist.
As the 17th Lok Sabha elections unfolded in Bengal, each phase bloodier and more confusing than the last, politicians have thrown their hats in the proverbial ring along with their manners and courtesy.
Take CPI(M) secretary Surya Kanta Mishra for example, who recently poked some crude fun at Chief Minister and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee. Making use of the micro-blogging site Twitter, Mishra tried to act "cool" by taking a dig at Banerjee's accent and English pronunciation.
"Gobment,poblem, theat,poposal, popaganda, poperly, pocuring,pocess, popety, pice, kalpits potection, pesident, poject...and the list goes on !!! If you want the " R " back...vote judiciously!" Mishra tweeted. He went on to add,"Excellent ponunciation! Hold high the Redflag to get the R back.#Vote4Left".
Apart from being completely redundant as a campaign peg and also somewhat nonsensical (Why do voters care about getting the 'R' back?), the snide personal attack smacks of classism. Which is ironic because the classist tweet is meant to garner votes for a Left party which claims to represent the class struggle and the fight against class oppression.
Poking fun at a person's English pronunciation is nothing but the perpetual state of colonial hangover that many Indians continue to live in. And it's ironic because most ordinary Indians do not have a mastery of the Queen's language, much like the British who are not particularly great at Hindi or Marathi. Despite English being second language to most people, the credence of the language over political discourse could be dangerous as it has the potential to hijack the discourse in favour of those who can better engage with the language.
Mishra poking fun at Didi's faulty English is just another reminder of the great disconnect that exists between the political leaders and masses of India, most of whom live in rural, tire 2 and tier 3 cities and have bare essential (if any) knowledge of English.
It's not just Didi who has been targeted for bad English.
Union Minister Smriti Irani recently got trolled after she posted a photo on Twitter saying she "casted" her vote. The grammatically correct thing to say would be "cast" and in that she was incorrect. But the reactions and trolling of a grammatical error reflect a deeper imperialistic mindset that instantly assigns a class to refinement and better English language skills.
Not all leaders and great orators of the world speak English and those who do are not better than the others by virtue of their tongue.
To connect with voters in Puruliya or Murshidabad, Banerjee need not care about her English diction or even speak in English at all. Politicians should focus on educating themselves in the real sense rather than manipulating voters with twisted words.
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