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Birbhum’s He Who Must Not Be Named

Suri, April 3: Satabdi Roy does not want joy. But Joy Banerjee has no reason to jump for joy. He has just landed in the midst of an unintentional pun.

Satabdi is aiming to increase her victory margin in the Birbhum Lok Sabha seat but does not want those campaigning for her to utter her rival Joy’s name so that he does not get “undue publicity”.

The actress’s objection has put her party, the Trinamul Congress, in a spot of bother as the Bengali word “joy” translates as “victory” in English — the most-used word in the election lexicon.

Local Trinamul leaders are wondering how they will avoid words such as “joy” and “joy-jukto” during campaigning. By force of habit, many of them have been uttering the words.

After the BJP announced Joy’s candidature for the Birbhum seat on March 8, Trinamul workers had been frequently saying during door-to-door campaigning: “Joy ke ektio vote deben na (Don’t cast a single vote for Joy).”

But when Satabdi came to know about it, she asked party workers at a meeting not to use Joy’s name.

“Our candidate doesn’t want the BJP nominee’s name to be taken during campaigning. But it is a fact that the Bengali word joy is very important in election speeches. It comes naturally and logically. But what can we do? We have to be careful,” a Trinamul leader in Suri said.

According to the leader, instead of saying “Trinamul prarthi Satabdi Roy ke bipul vote-e joyjukta korun (Ensure the victory of Trinamul candidate Satabdi Roy by a huge margin)”, campaigners are now saying “Trinamul prarthi Satabdi Roy ke bipul vote-e joyee korun”, a minor tweak in the syntax without changing the meaning.

Another Trinamul leader, who is close to Satabdi, said: “During campaigning, the BJP candidate is reminding voters that he is an actor. Like him, Didi (Satabdi) too belongs to the film fraternity. So she does not want us to take his name, so that he does not get undue publicity.”

Sitting MP Satabdi seems to be practising what she is preaching. When The Telegraph contacted her, she referred to Joy, her co-star in two films, as “him”.

“I have worked here for the past five years. People here like me much more than other actors and actresses. So I don’t want to give him any importance. I have asked our party workers not to utter his name while campaigning. I don’t want to criticise any opponent…. I will definitely win this time. My main aim is to increase my margin,” she said.

In 2009, Roy had won the Birbhum seat by a margin of over 61,500 votes.

Joy, who has acted with Satabdi in Ma Ek Mandir and Punarmilan, said the Trinamul candidate was a “good friend”.

“I have come here to contest an election. There is nothing personal. I will not comment on what my opponent has said. She is a good friend of mine,” he said.