From masterstroke to comical error: Trinamool’s erroneous poll slogan panned in Goa

The political war cry ‘khela hobe’ (game on) put Trinamool Congress on the front foot in its high stakes battle for West Bengal against the BJP in the assembly polls held earlier this year.

However, the party’s attempt to coin another slogan ‘Gonychi Navi Sakal’ (Goa’s News Dawn) ahead of the 2022 Goa assembly polls, now has TMC on the backfoot in its visibility campaign in a state where regional pride is emerging as a significant political factor.

After the error-ridden slogan went up on public billboards, social media hashtags and other advertising avenues, the party went into damage control mode as the error was panned by political parties as well as social media commentators.

While the correction to ‘Goenchi Navi Sakaal’ is being papered over the earlier erroneous poll slogan, the person who coined the erroneous slogan, Sahitya Akademi award winning writer and Goa TMC member N. Shivdas claims that the error in the slogan was inserted on purpose, in order to attract popular attention.

“There is a mistake in some banners in Roman script. That was my draft. It is a deliberate draft. And there is discussion now on the spelling. I am a Sahitya Akademi award winning writer. I have taught Konkani for the last 36 years in different schools in Goa,” said Shivdas, a former state Congress office bearer. Konkani is written in multiple scripts which include Devanagri, Roman, Kannada and Malayalam.

Over the last couple of days, the TMC’s slogan was panned on social media.

“TMC should have learnt a little bit of Konkani before putting up this banner. Gonychi cannot be a Konkani word,” Rakesh Kandolkar, a local businessman, tweeted.

“@MamataOfficial Your Journey to Goa is started with Wrong Spelling so this will definitely bring you a very bad luck in elections 2022. Goa is not Bengal and Goa is no more available for outside parties to rule,” said Manoj Parab, president of the Revolutionary Goans, a new political outfit with a regionalist credo.

“When you want to make a political entry inside a state, the least you can do is spell the name of the state right,” said Rohan Govenkar, a local writer.

Despite being panned, Shivdas continues to stick to his guns.

“Whatever spelling I have mentioned, that was done deliberately to start a discussion. I got the result, because people are discussing the TMC because of that,” Shivdas said.

Specifically responding to criticism from the Aam Aadmi Party, whose spokespersons have used the error to question the credentials of the TMC’s Goa leadership, Shivdas said: “I have taught Konkani for the last 36 years in different schools in Goa. They need not teach me. If AAP has a problem, they should approach us to learn Konkani,” he said.

The TMC has re-entered Goa politics with a bang ahead of the 2022 state assembly polls. The West Bengal based party has already roped in former Chief Minister and ex Congress Working Committee member Luizinho Faleiro into its ranks. The party is expected to contest all 40 seats in Goa, even as TMC MP and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee has said that the party will not enter into any alliance in Goa.