Politics of Slogans

Tasavur Mushtaq

Recently when I travelled down the south to cover election campaigning of two major political parties in the fray, the environs at few places were reverberating with slogans. The difference was just who the audience was listening to.

While walking through the lanes of various villages where the leaders of these two parties were scheduled to address, I was lost in my childhood memories, when in old city, loud speakers of Masjid’s were abuzz with slogans ‘Khoone Shaheedan rang laaya, Jaago jaago subah huvi,’ and various others which eventually have been erased by the new ones. The slogans were given background effect by beating of drums from the roof tops.

Then in 2002, assembly elections were held, possibly the one where participation was more of people after two decade strife of militancy. There was paradigm shift and first time I heard slogans in favour of ‘pro-Indian’ parties. It took me time to comprehend as I still had imprints of those loudspeaker voices and beating of drums. In this case the beating of drum was replaced by full fledged background music. NC had fielded Omar Abdullah first time in state politics and the slogan was, ‘Praani grav maeshravav, Albani vote travav,’ (Forget the old grievances and vote for NC).

PDP was new entrant in politics, though later they formed government with symbol borrowed from Muslim United Front (MUF); pen and inkpot and chose green as their flag colour. This was possibly done to revive the old chords of people who were associated with ‘freedom movement’. The slogan in PDP rallies was, ‘PDP hai apni jamaat, yaad rakho qalam dawaat,” (PDP is our own party, remember to vote for it). Mufti Muhammad Sayeed extensively used ‘healing touch’ in his rallies and even after formation of government.

While I was recollecting all this, I have heard in family discussion that in prime time of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the slogans echoing were, “Ale kaeri wangan kaeri, Bab kaeri lolo ( Whatever Bab, Sheikh Abdullah wish, he can do that). This was I guess the trust.

The summer uprisings shadowed the 2002 and millions of people who were on the roads were shouting, “kaun kare ga tarjumani, Syed Ali Shah Geelani”. The other one I remember was, ‘is paar be leinge azaadi, us paar bi leinge azaadi”. The scenes were such effective that many elderly people I heard whispering that ‘We are free from the Indian occupation’. What went wrong, we will discuss it some other day.

Now when this time the election campaigning is in full bloom, the people I guess are the same, only the slogans have changed. The PDP rallies were shouting, ‘Yeli yi Mufti, teli chaeli sakhti’ (Mufti will come, difficulties will go), waving same MUF’s symbol.

While NC rallies were reverberating with, ‘Jeet hamari Insha Allah, Dushman Haeri Insha Allah,’ (Victory is ours, enemy will lose), again a MUF’s slogan of late eighties. Didn’t we had a single party to carry legacy forward, but NC?

The times have changed, so have the slogans. But irony is what we are up to as a collective society. We are being fed like animals and made to dance on their tunes. Do we really mean what we shout or it is just momentarily to cheer up ‘leaders’. Slogans do make nations to stand in uniformity and not change as and when the wind changes. Do we really have one slogan which we can preserve throughout the generations? Can’t we give one slogan as a tribute to those who laid down their lives? Or else we continue to be tamed for the ‘larger good’ of our oppressors.

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