What’s in a name? In Punjab, it could well be a political good fortune. For those named Babli, Bunty, Pinky or Rozy in childhood by doting parents or grandparents, carry their nicknames even as candidates in state elections. And lists of political parties also mention them as such.
Not only comedians such as Bhagwant Mann and Gurpreet Singh “Ghuggi” of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and comedy show hosts, including Navjot Singh Sidhu, are taking centrestage in Punjab’s poll arena not as cheerleaders but main protagonists, nicknames of candidates from all political parties are also providing some comic relief.
“Babli” is out but “Bunty” is in. Congress MLA from Nawanshahr Guriqbal Kaur “Babli” has opted out of the race for her 25-year-old son Angad Saini. In Faridkot, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate is Parambans Singh “Bunty” Romana, a protégé of party president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal who even walks and talks like him.
And guess who from the Congress is fighting SAD’s Bunty? It is “Kiki” Dhillion, as Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon is popularly known as.
There is a Rozy and Pinky too. Sukhbir has fielded another protégé Kanwarjit Singh “Rozy” Barkandi from the Muktsar seat and Congress has Parminder Singh “Pinky” from the Ferozepur (city) seat.
A quick-witted Sukhbir has ensured more candidates tickle your funny bones. So he has also paired a “Noni” with a “Bonny”. Vardev Singh “Noni” Mann is party’s candidate from Guru Har Sahai seat and Amarpal Singh “Bonny” from the Ajnala seat.
There is also a rhyming “Kaka” and a “Kaki” in the poll fray. From Amloh, the Congress has fielded “Kaka” Randeep Singh and the Aam Aadmi Party’s candidate from Qadian is Kanwalpreet Singh “Kaki”. A pointer to age, it is interesting how the meaning of the term “Kaka” can mean in country’s two poll-bound states. It means a little boy in Punjab and brother of one’s father in Uttar Pradesh.
The AAP has a few more interesting nicknames on its list. For Mukerian, it has chosen Sulkhan Singh “Jaggi” and for Zira Gurpreet Singh “Gora”. And it’s here where a nickname or surname really helps. The party has at least three other Gurpreet Singhs in its list of nominees. Other than state convener Gurpreet “Ghuggi” from Batala, there is Gurpreet Bhatti from Amloh and a Gurpreet Lapran from Payal.
Then there are the bird-inspired names. SAD minister Tota Singh is party’s candidate from Dharamkot. Tota means a parrot in English but when it becomes a name of a politician, the minister has instructed it should be written with the surname or else it becomes defamatory.
Talking of popularity of nicknames, it would well be “Sherry” that is on the top. Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, nicknamed Sherry, will be batting on the Congress pitch in Punjab polls and even his Twitter handle proclaims “sherryontop”.