Chandigarh, August 21: When Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi was transferred from Bilaspur village on the Moga-Barnala road where he had served the people for years as the medical officer, hundreds of Panchayats converged to Chandigarh to meet Health secretary Swaran Singh Boparai to get the orders stalled. People would not like him to go. There was a reason for that.
Dr Dharam Vira had proved that given the vision and the will, the dreams can be translated into reality with cooperation from the people. When he was posted to Bilaspur, he started his dispensary from a single room provided by the panchayats. By the time he was transferred out, Bilaspur had a 30-bedded hospital that had come up with the funds provided by the people.
It was the same Dr Gandhi who settled in Patiala after resigning the government service and came out with his own 3-layered model of serving the people. He forced the pathological laboratories to charge 30 per cent less from the patients referred by him. In the process, he also exposed the underbelly of underhand deals in his profession.
Dr Gandhi, as the rebel Aam Aadmi Party MP from Patiala, has come up with a new idea at the political level and that is to fill up the vacant space in Punjab with a regional outfit that should articulate aspirations of Punjab and Punjabis in a broad pro-people and secular framework. The underlying idea is complete autonomy at every level. Dr Gandhi refers to states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Odisha while maintaining that the Shiromani Akali Dal gave up that role years ago. In Punjab, it was the Akali Dal that had come up with the slogan of autonomy but the party was never serious about it and never worked for its implementation after coming into power. Parkash Singh Badal is now chief minister for the fifth time but he is part of the system.
“Punjab is orphaned state”, asserts Dr Gandhi and he substantiates his articulation. The Akali Dal leadership turned capitalist and hence the so called corporate Akali Dal that has shed even the pretense of being pro-people.
“The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress in Punjab get orders from their bosses in Delhi and these parties can’t take a single decision at their own. Why should people sitting in Delhi should decide who is to head AAP or the Congress in Punjab? It should be the prerogative of the people. Complete autonomy mean total involvement of the people in decision making at every level. They would be involved in governance if the candidates of various parties are decided by them rather than being imposed upon them. The election is the second part”, he maintains.
In his appeal to the well-wishers of Punjab, he said:
“The national parties and the regional party like Shiromani Akali Dal have played havoc with Punjab whereby the state is now facing serious crisis in agriculture and industry, in education and health services and is seized by drug mafia.
The past experience is a clear testimony to the fact that centralized political parties such as Congress and BJP, including the newly born political outfit called ‘Aam Aadmi Party’ are not only compromising the interests of the state of Punjab but are also bulldozing political autonomy of the state.
The people of Punjab reposed a tremendous trust in the new party, i.e. Aam Aadmi Party, what it claims to be a national party, in a very short time has reduced itself simply to the race for political power at the cost of professed claims for changing the system. Consequently, it has depoliticized the people of Punjab, has emasculated the local leadership and relegated the real issues to the back, plunging people into total dismay.
Despite being a regional outfit SAD has slipped into the hands of such a coterie of people who have enjoyed power in collusion with corporate houses at the cost of Punjab, and in the process has not only betrayed the interests of Punjab, but also has not spared even the Sikh institutions.
India is a multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious country; unity amidst diversity is its real strength and pride. It is, therefore, utmost important to respect diversity in line with the Federal principles. For a country like India, marching towards modernity, it is all the more important to follow the federal principles.
There is an urgent need to build a regional and effective political outfit, wedded to the interests of Punjab while following principles of social justice, democracy and federalism.”
“We will make our presence felt”, he asserts.
Dharam Vira Gandhi is a doctor with a mission. His latest move aims at healing this sick state with people’s participation. He proved at Bilaspur that he can do it. Here is the bigger challenge as like earlier, he himself as set the objective.