During the Left Front years of Bengal, ‘tormuj’ or watermelon used to be a dark word for the opposition Congress, which current CM Mamata Banerjee once belonged to. She then formed Trinamool Congress, but the ‘tormuj’ still bothered her.

In Bengal, the land of tantalising metaphors, ‘tormuj’ or watermelon meant somebody who was green on the outside but red inside. Or, somebody who publicly feigned support for the Congress or Trinamool, but quietly voted for the CPM.

Today, ‘kumro’ or pumpkin is the new ‘tormuj’. Someone who is deep green on the outside and flaming saffron within. A BJP supporter in Trinamool skin! The worst and most dreaded enemy of Mamata Banerjee right now.

You can hang from trees those who wear saffron on their sleeves, but how do you detect bhagwa knickers under blue-and-white uniform.

Off with the pumpkin’s head

Trinamool’s paranoia has heightened after Mamata’s closest aide Mukul Roy turned coat. There has been a steady flow of desertions from the TMC to the BJP since then.

Where is the next pumpkin hiding? How can we spot him or her? How much damage can this pumpkin cause? These are existential questions for Didi now.

Matters have come to a point where even some TMC polling officials are privately saying they will vote BJP!

Notes from one, votes for other

In the late eighties and early nineties the BJP ran an effective whisper campaign, “Chup chap phool-ey chhaap.” It exhorted one to silently stamp the lotus symbol to avoid being bullied by the CPM.

Today, another slogan is spreading wildly, especially among Bengal’s poor: “Chhoto phool-er note, baro phool-ey vote.” Take the notes that TMC (whose symbol has tiny flowers) is offering as bribe, but cast your vote for the larger flower, or lotus.

Pumpkins, watermelons, flowers…the Bengal election may be the bloodiest and grisliest in the country, but from its darkest depths is still gurgling out juicy, irrepressible Bengali humour.