Chandigarh, May 16: The show of strength at Mohali was magnificent but apparently, Aam Aadmi Party fell into the well-crafted trap laid by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as it all ended up in an anti-climax with the submission of a memorandum listing various demands. Nothing unusual as this happens routinely. Badal came out to meet the party delegation that included state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, party MPs Bhagwant Mann and Sadhu Singh and state incharge Sanjay Singh.
The party had given a call to the people to gherao Chief Minister’s residence but they were stopped at the Chandigarh-Mohali barrier near the YPS School that again is routine for all the agitating people. There are several roads that connect Mohali to Chandigarh but the agitators maintained discipline by insisting on this route only where police had been deployed in strength to stop their march. AAP people were no exception. Hundreds of them could have taken other roads to reach Badal’s residence.
The memorandum could have been submitted by the leaders without giving the gherao call that was never implemented. AAP volunteers did not even put up symbolic aggressiveness of jumping over the barricades that often makes good visuals when the police shower the agitators with water cannon. They were perhaps instructed to main discipline. It was possibly for this reason too that the leadership did not even insist that Badal should come to Mohali to accept the memorandum. These leaders behaved like ‘good boys’. Of course, Sanjay Singh refused the normal Punjabi courtesy that was Badal’s invitation to come in. At least twice he has given red carpet welcome to Congress MLAs whenever they have gone to agitate in front of his residence in recent years.
The main issue was Rs 12,000 crore scam regarding missing foodgrains due to which the banks initially refused to extend cash credit limit to the state for procurement of wheat for the central pool. Punjab insists it is a mismatch between accounts of the centre and the state. The accounts are in the process of being settled. It may be mentioned that there is rampant corruption in the procurement of foodgrains in the state where the market integration is complete. This also involves central agencies like the Food Corporation of India and the railways. This has been going on ever since procurement operations started years back. The issue is of foodgrains worth Rs 12,000 crore missing that might have been siphoned off into the open market which would have upset the entire private trade. Let there be Supreme Court monitored SIT probe to dig out the truth.
The AAP leaders sat on dharna in front of the CM’s residence and raised slogans including Inquilab Zindabad for a few minutes before Badal came out to receive their memorandum. This slogan might not be palatable to several of theirown leaders in Punjab but then it is more of symbolism than commitment to any ideals that this slogan raised by Shaheed Bhagat Singh symbolizes. It is like donning yellow that was never the colour associated with Bhagat Singh. The colour of his turban used to be white. The raising of this slogan has also to be seen in the context of AAP being non-ideological but of course, having pro-people stance.
Politics is the game of scores. Of course, it is the election result that is the final score and as of today, AAP seems to be surging ahead but the turnout today was less than what the leaders had been claiming. People had come to gherao Badal’s residence but returned with their leaders being content with submitting memorandum.
The problem in Punjab is the deepening agrarian crisis that is going to have multiplier effect thereby impacting demand. Existing industry is already facing problems and the much talked about investment has not materialized. The present government has a period of only a few months to show results.
The basic principle of the battle is forcing the enemy to fight on your turf and you don’t go to adversary. This is where AAP failed today. As the ghrao plan was abandoned, these leaders could have returned after submitting the memorandum to the Governor. Asking the CM to come out to receive the memorandum is no victory as this has happened earlier too. There was nothing unusual in this.
AAP presently seems to be people’s movement. It should be kept in mind that the slogan of Inquilab Zindabad is not for just raising it. The party has to justify the raising of it.