Political Play with Words
Politics is a very complex field; more so because it involves human relationships with a variety of objectives in mind. Politicians have their own lexicon. They have a unique art of expressing the same situation in different words, depending on which side of the table they are. Here is a look at some such innovative usage of expressions commonly used in politics.
Incentives versus Subsidies
If some concessions like tax concessions are given to the rich, they are labelled as ‘incentives’ that the government claims will help spur growth. On the other hand, if the same concessions are given to the poor then they are labelled as ‘subsidies’ that the government thinks can hamper growth, if continued in the long term.
Free thinkers or loose cannons?
If Digvijay Singh, or Jairam Ramesh, or Mani Shankar Aiyar express their divergent views in public, the Congress labels them as ‘free thinkers’, while the BJP calls them ‘loose cannons’. The same BJP and Congress would interchange their expressions if Narendra Modi or Jaswant Singh say something contradictory to their party in public.
Democracy versus lack of consensus
Manmohan Singh in his recent address to leading editors said that development should not get hampered due to environmental concerns (vis-à-vis the Vedanta project). On the other hand, a couple of days later, Sonia Gandhi said that progress could not be carried out at the cost of environment. These contradictory views were labelled as a ‘lack of consensus’ between the party and the government by the opposition, while the UPA-II labelled it as ‘democracy’.
Act of statesmanship or an act of theatre?
When AB Vajpayee was the prime minister, he promised to the Kashmiris that the government was ready to talk within the framework of humanity. His “insaniyat ke dayare mein baat-cheet” statement was labelled as an ‘act of theatre’ by many including the Congress whereas the BJP labelled it as an ‘act of statesmanship’. However, when recently Manmohan Singh said that the Centre was willing to consider autonomy for the state within the ambit of the Constitution, it seems like an act of statesmanship to the Congress now. Needless to say, the BJP may now find it an act of theatre.
Central Bureau of Investigation or Congress Bureau of Investigation?
Recently, the opposition demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation should look into the matter of 2G spectrum scam because according to them (back then), it is an independent and impartial agency. However, when Amit Shah was charged by the same agency for kidnapping and murder of alleged gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his wife Kauser Bi in November 2005, the BJP labelled the CBI as ‘Congress’ Bureau of Investigation.
Whether it is a difference of perception or a careful play of words, it is for those at the receiving end to decipher. Irrespective of the rationale, one thing is clear – such ambiguous expressions help the politicians evade uncomfortable situations and make good of opportunities. And, our politicians are masters in this art!
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)