Chandigarh, June 28: This is the summarization of the present situation in Punjab by a friend who just returned after spending a few days in his native area. Majority of the people he talked to favoured Aam Aadmi Party while maintaining that Punjab needs a decisive person like state Congress chief Amarinder Singh as the chief minister. This is the contradiction that the people holding such opinion have to resolve by February 2017 when the state goes to the polls. This is the general sentiment prevailing in the state in the absence of the projection of any leader as the chief ministerial face by AAP. The rest were those aligned either to the Congress or the Akali Dal.
In terms of people’s choice, the Congress is nowhere near its leader while the party leadership at the centre, the high command comprising Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, continues to commit blunders, the latest being the appointment of Asha Kumari belonging to Himachal Pradesh as the secretary incharge in the state. She has been convicted in a land scam but the sentence has been suspended by the high court.
Amarinder claims he was taken into confidence before entrusting her with the responsibility. The incharge from the centre has no role to play in the state except accepting gifts from the ticket aspirants. One such incharge while going to his native place to celebrate Diwali told the party men in the state that he would be available at his home during that period. The hint was clear.
Capt Amarinder Singh and some other Congressmen have come to her defence while pointing fingers at the convicted and tainted leaders in the Akali Dal, BJP and AAP. However, this just not justify her appointment and that too where the future of the party itself is at stake as Punjab 2017 polls mean much more for all the stakeholders rather than just capturing power. The Gandhis had taken the first suicidal step with the appointment of party general secretary Kamal Nath as the Punjab incharge and had to be withdrawn within hours. The issue was his alleged involvement in the planned November 1984 massacre of the Sikhs following assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31.
Amarinder’s counter-attack is very focused but the party should not have been put on defensive for the second time within days by the decision makers. When people talk about rejecting both the Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress, such controversies do matter despite the fact that incharge has little interaction with the people at large. The basic issue is as to what dictates the perception of the people. Such blunders facilitate people to facilitate them in making the right choices. A wrong decision can’t be defended by saying, “you too”.
The appointment of Asha Kumari also coincides with the revelation by Amarinder of the fact that he had been denying when the information got leaked out some months back about the likelihood of his forming own party. He has come on record in his interactive interview with a news channel. He has claimed that he had the support of 37 MLAs in that move. What used to be discussed during that period was the actual number of MLAs who might take the final plunge with him. Some of those within his own circle were not in favour of a separate party although they might have pledged support to him.
It is this situation that throws a big challenge to him. His strategic adviser by this time might have given him the feedback regarding anti-incumbency against several of the sitting MLAs from his own party. It would not be possible to placate them in case of refusal of ticket.
Of course, his interactive sessions with the people are getting encouraging response and he is in the field as a soldier who would fight till the last. However, he should pray that no other blunder would be committed by the two decision makers in Delhi.
People like Navjot Singh Sidhu, Jagir kaur and Tota Singh might be convicted but that is no logic to justify the appointment of a convict as incharge of the Congress affairs in Punjab and that too for an election that is going to be a do or die battle.
The people trust Capt. Amarinder Singh but it is to be seen whether he succeeds in convincing the people to repose their faith in his party too or not. This is the most crucial aspect as depending upon this, the Congress would either be wiped out or be a ruling party. There is nothing in-between.