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Poll Slogan T-Shirts usher in a new political culture in Bengal

2 April, 2021 15:27:02
Poll Slogan T-Shirts usher in a new political culture in Bengal

From being an undergarment that was worn underneath jackets to breaking taboos and becoming mainstream pop culture of the youth, tee-shirts have been a revolution in themselves. When two pop culture icons like Marlon Brando and James Dean wore a plain white tee-shirt in the movies, it became a symbol of rebellion and the youth embraced it. Now when trends become mainstream, ‘re-invention’ happens. From a basic white, tee-shirts finally get ink and as the ink arrived, one such reinvention happened with the ‘Slogan Tee shirts!’

This new mode of canvassing has caught on the fancy of the candidates as well. Senior Trinamool leader and candidate from Baranagar Assembly Constituency, Tapas Roy told the media: “Times have changed so canvassing cannot be restricted to just wall graffiti. Slogans on Tee shirts have more power and impact people directly.”

The idea of wearing a political message on your attire certainly hasn’t gone away. Cartoons, graffiti, rhymes, parody and catchy slogans have always been an integral part of Bengal’s political culture. So has parody. In the 1960s, the ‘Desi’ communists used to chant “Tomar naam aamar naam Vietnam” (your name and my name is Vietnam) in solidarity with communist guerillas in the South-East Asian nation fighting American aggression. This slogan was re-phrased from the mid-2000s, by All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) Party supremo, Ms Mamata Banerjee, as “Tomar naam aamar naam Nandigram” (Your name and my name is Nandigram) as she led a movement against the ruling Left government to oppose the acquisition of farmland for a special economic zone.

In the run-up to the 2021 Assembly elections, the use of political slogans on T-shirts is a new trend that reflects a changing political culture. Tees displaying ‘Khela Hobay’ (The game will be played) in bold colours are displayed next to ‘Bhanga Paaye Khela Hobay’ (The game will be played with fractured foot)! ‘Laal Pherao, Haal Pherao’ (Recall Red and restore your state). The polls will be held in the height of summer and during this time there is a demand for light cotton vests. The new tees with catchy slogans and signs, profiles of political leaders and myriad party symbols are up for grabs and people are buying these trendy, comfortable tees by the dozens. Business has really picked up and the broad smile on the sellers’ countenance says it all.  

The manufactures have played it safe with the slogans. Instead of writing overtly political slogans, most of them have twisted a word here or there to make the Tees acceptable to not just political party supporters but the common masses as well. This strategy has worked wonders it seems. One such creator Montu Das of Barrackpore says: ‘I have slightly modified the political slogans on the tees which read, for instance, ‘Ei Banglay Khela Hobay’ (The game will be played in this Bengal) or ‘Esho Bondhu Khela Hobay’ (Come my friend, the game will be played). 

Salt Lake-based manufacturer Samik Guha has received wholesale orders for manufacturing tees with the slogan, ‘Ghorir Kantay Tik Tik, Didi Korbay Hattrick’ (As the clock ticks, Didi is all set to return for her third term) and ‘Banglay Ebar Modi Sarkar’ (Modi will form government in Bengal this time). The demands for these Tees are on the rise as the poll frenzy is catching up with the masses. Bulk orders are being placed by political parties, leaders of respective parties as well as local political party leaders. 

In the run-up to the 2021 Assembly elections, the use of political slogans on T-shirts is a new trend that reflects a changing political culture. Tees displaying ‘Khela Hobay’ (The game will be played) in bold colours are displayed next to ‘Bhanga Paaye Khela Hobay’ (The game will be played with fractured foot)! ‘Laal Pherao, Haal Pherao’ (Recall Red and restore your state).

This new mode of canvassing has caught on the fancy of the candidates as well. Senior Trinamool leader and candidate from Baranagar Assembly Constituency, Tapas Roy told the media: “Times have changed so canvassing cannot be restricted to just wall graffiti. Slogans on Tee shirts have more power and impact people directly.” He has been ordering Tees with political slogans written on them for his party workers as well. His boys are also very happy with this gesture. BJP leader Shamik Bhattacharya also finds this high-tech new-Age election campaign very trendy and youth-oriented. 

Another interesting aspect that has come to the fore in this war of words is the emergence of an independent platform that challenges all political parties and reminds them that they are mere puppets in the hands of the omnipresent ‘Voter’ who has the power to make or break the future of the leaders who are all crying hoarse begging for votes. Tees with slogans like ‘Shakti Amaar Vote’ (Voting is my power) or ‘Janata Holo Re Ekjot,’ (The masses have come together), ‘Channel Bodlabe Remote’ (The remote will be used to change a TV channel). These slogans glorify the power of the masses. 

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