Akalis, fearful of anti incumbency are dishing out a new political narrative; peace and patriotism. Good governance and development are referred to only in passing. Ever since the father son duo- chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal embarked upon organizing rally after rally in all corners of Punjab, they have been alleging that the Congress is backing the Khalistanis and other extremist elements and destabilizing Punjab. The Congress is playing with peace established after a long struggle and at a huge sacrifices and thus jeopardizing lives of people. They wish the people to forget corruption that is eating like a moth the vey ethos of governance and justice. Instead Chief Minister alleges that the Congress is playing petty politics and asks how could any Punjabi ever forget that the Congress has deprived the state of its legitimate right to have a capital, Punjabi-speaking areas and justifiable share in river waters, besides tormenting the Sikh psyche by attacking the Golden Temple and killing of thousands of innocent Sikhs during the 1984 riots. Now, he asks rhetorically, the Congress is hobnobbing with the extremists. Badal conveniently forgets that his followers and the SGPC have been honoring killers of political leaders and army generals.
Badals wish that his family’s hegemony and it’s no holds barred control over Sikh religious institutions- SGPC and the Akal Takht and misuse of state’s resources for personal aggrandizement should all be forgiven. The state is burdened with over one lakh twenty thousand crore of debt and where farmers’ cry for help is answered with batons and bullets- all be forgotten as a small problem. In fact, battles hardened Badals know more than anyone else that the promises they have been dishing out; good governance and development have remained by and large unfulfilled and their days in seat of power are numbered. Dremrselling has limits. Many observers note – come elections in early 2017, the defeat of the Akali BJP coalition is more or less a certainty. A spontaneous Sarbat Khalsa held last month in Amritsar was a clear indication that Sikh masses were feeling disheartened and suffocated by rampant corruption , misrule and utter discard of all democratic norms.
This political scenario looks heated up as if the elections are to be held in next month. These are good more than a year away. The fatigue is visible on the face of the rulers. If the Badals staged seven medium or big rallies all across the state, the new united Congress whose command is now firmly in the hands of battle tested Capt. Amarinder Singh has answered with one mega rally at Bathinda , the bastion of the Badal family .
Managing more than double the crowd in response to Sukhbir Badal’s challenge, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt Amarinder Singh vowed to wipe out drug menace from the state within four weeks if voted to power. He also swore by “Gutka” (a miniature Guru Granth Sahib) and Takht Damdama Sahib and declared, “Just in one year, I will sort out all farmland troubles which forced you to take such extreme steps.” He announced to stop auctioning of the land of farmers who might have defaulted on their loans. There were more sops on the table; no corruption at all, the amount for the shagun scheme to be enhanced to Rs 51,000 from Rs 15,000 at present and the old age and widow pension to Rs 2,000 per month from Rs 500. He also announced to extend free electricity to Dalits from current 200 units to 300 units per month.
Referring to the alleged undue control of the Badals over the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, he vowed: “Not as a Congressman, but personally as a Sikh I will definitely participate in the SGPC elections to oppose the Badals.” He alleged direct role of Badals in the sacrilege incident at Bargari village recently that caused state wide protests and police firing in which two youth were killed.
AAP is emerging and fast too as the third player that could be a spoiler for the Congress . It has organized protest rallies throughout the state, demanding resignation of agriculture minister Tota Singh for his alleged role in pesticide sale that finally lead to the destruction of thousands of hectares of cotton crop. Response to these rallies, particularly from the youth has unnerved, both the ruling Akali BJP coalition and the Congress.
A fundamental question that these minor or mega rallies pose when Politics shall move away from these tamashas and counter-tamashas? Who would perform that exacting task of governance? We all know that angry rhetoric does find a response in the crowd, as religious symbolism in which all are masters, even AAP. The usual rush of pre-electoral promises on the one side, and a trumpeting of achievements on the other hardly convince anyone. Personal attack by the leaders on another does add spice but also generates more of bitterness. People returning from these rallies often ask: Can they really trust these politicians.
Mr. O P Sharma is former governor of Nagaland and former chief of Punjab police writes:” I thank you very much for the two articles which I have read with great interest.
Haryana Lok Pal seemingly has been turned into a farcical entity. It may be due to CM’s lack of administrative experience. In the current melee Vadra will go scot free.
Punjabis deserved better than their current or even the past leadership. The tribe of AAP is likely to gain in the cat fight of Mahajagirdar and the Maharaja. The people on the whole are the likely losers. The Khalistanis are already lying in the wait. It is a perplexing scenario. Police and administration would be like lost children in political wilderness. The government machinery is not the fabled steel frame that can sustain stability as it has been junked by self serving politicians of every shade. I pity the great people of Punjab who definitely deserve better.