Maa, Mati, Mangsho: Lessons for the BJP on Why You Shouldn’t Tell a Bengali Voter What to Eat

Politics

Maa, Mati, Mangsho: Lessons for the BJP on Why You Shouldn’t Tell a Bengali Voter What to Eat

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

F

ood is inextricably linked with politics and power. If you’ve read Asterix, you’ll recall how giddy-headed Roman noblemen and women jumped into giant cauldrons of cheese fondue and hastened the downfall of the mighty empire.

Closer home, onions have played a pungent role in bringing down governments since the 1980s. Last week, it forced a teary-eyed ouster for the incumbent in Rajasthan. Lalu Prasad Yadav had once famously compared his political longevity to the presence of aloo in samosas – you were supposed to take it for granted. Until of course he became fodder for the CBI and the cows he fed. The chants of “Har Ghar Modi” turned to “Arhar Modi” when the price of the staple turned unpalatable. And the late J Jayalalithaa – whose dole model is being replicated in West Bengal – set the template for subsidised food for her electorate with Amma Canteen. While meat has often been a bone of contention, beef has lately become a ballot issue.  

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