Chandigarh, August 6: In politics for the last about four decades, AAPPunjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur is fully resolved to command his party in victory in the state in February 2017 Assembly elections despite the rumblings over the finalization and release of first list of nineteen candidates in his absence.
“The bigger issue is showing door to the repressive and corrupt Parkash Singh Badal government while ensuring that the Congress meets the same fate here as in Delhi. There is little difference between these two parties. The people in Punjab hate both these parties and they want us to provide honest and efficient governance. The finalization of candidates is not that big an issue”, he asserted in an informal interaction Friday evening.
At the same time, he made it clear he would take up the issue of selection of candidates with party chief Arvind Kejriwal after he returns from Dharamsala where he has gone for meditation, his annual routine. Interestingly, in the selection of candidates, it is not Kejriwal who is being blamed but his main lieutenants in Punjab including state incharge Sanjay Singh and its national organizational secretary Durgesh Pathak. In the entire process, there is another alarming controversy that has erupted and it is the treatment being meted out to the party activists in Punjab by Pathak. H S Kingra, former bureaucrat who for long has been party spokesman, while tendering his resignation, attacked Pathak for using derogatory language against the Sikhs as a community. However, the Akali Dal has utterly failed to capitalize on this allegation.
Pathak too is learnt to be attending the meditation camp.
None from Delhi has refuted the allegations being leveled by the disgruntled activists of the party being anti-Sikh. These allegations would have carried more weight in case the same had been leveled by Kingra while he was in the party. Several other leaders also maintain that what Kingra is voicing might not be part of mere allegations.
Significantly, the list of 19 candidates released by Sanjay Singh and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann is dominated by Sikhs. The list might not betray the ideals that used to be projected by the party at the earlier stage but this flies in the face of allegations of AAP outsiders being anti-Sikh. Chhotepur gives clean chit to the leadership on this issue.
He maintained that giving him a ticket was also the party prerogative while making it clear that in the context of the nature of fight in the state, even a slight slip can’t be afforded. The party would have to come out with the best options before the people so that they see the difference between AAP and the other two main contenders.
The objective of AAP leadership is to grab power in Punjab and use this state as a launching pad for its national ambition. The Congress too perceives this election as a do or die battle for the same reason. The oldest party in the country would become part of the history in Punjab too in case it fails to gain the confidence of the people for the third consecutive term. It would also raise question mark over the capacity of Rahul Gandhi to lead the party. Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal who is also the Deputy Chief Minister has personal stakes. It is Sukhbir who runs the Akali Dal-BJP government in the state. His business empire has seen exponential expansion over the decade. It is a different issue that there is nothing illegal about it.
The problem with the Congress is that it is still in the process of taking off despite the earlier impression that Capt Amarinder Singh had geared up and come out of his laid back approach. What is missing is aggressiveness that is required in such a tough battle. The Congress suddenly gets lost to show its face again after a few days. What is lacking is consistency. Capt Amarinder has move fast and maintain a certain pitch rather than going by some timetable to peak his campaign in November. Much water would have flown in Punjab rivers by that time. He virtually forced Rahul to hand him over the state leadership.
AAP’s worst weakness is the lack of sensitivities of its outside leadership to the regional sensibilities. The blunders that the party committed at the time of release of its youth manifesto resulted from that. It was also a proof enough that the local leadership had been ignored.
Punjab is the only state where AAP succeeded in opening its account in the 2014 Lok Sabha election by winning four seats. This achievement was not due to Kejriwal or these outsiders who have been dictating the party affairs here since then. It was due to people’s anger against the Badal government. The Akali Dal might have lost from the prestigious seat of Bathinda in case AAP had not put up its candidate. One can’t rule out repetition of Bathinda in several seats during the Assembly election.