Punjab political discourse getting polarized along two axis


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, September 8: Cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu who is now part of new conglomerate under the banner of Awaz-e-Punjab today made some significant observations including rhetoric while keeping the speculation alive as the decision on formalizing the new dispensation would be taken within the next about 20 days. However, the more than hour long interaction  of his team with the media here gave enough indications of the emerging political contour in volatile Punjab.

He was accompanied by rebel Akali MLA and former Olympian Pargat Singh and independent MLA brothers Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains.

The two points around which polarization is apparently taking place include anti-Badalism reflected in Tsunami of anti-incumbency and the insider-outsider issue that has hit the Aam Aadmi Party like a meteor.

One of his theses is the same that AAP has been propounding. According to this thesis, state Congress chief Capt. Amarinder Singh and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal are mixed up that has triggered frustration among the people in the state and hence the need for a new outfit.

He disclosed for the first time as to why his meeting with Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal did not reach the logical conclusion.

“My resignation from Rajya Sabha had nothing to do with it. Kejriwal wanted to use me as a decoration piece. I wanted my role to be specifically defined. However, he offered to give ticket to my wife and induct her as a minister”, he said.

He resigned from the Rajya Sabha due to contradictions with the BJP. He said the BJP wanted him to campaign for Parkash Singh Badal or keep away from Punjab. “My commitment is to the people of Amritsar first. I am servant of the Guru Ghar”, he said. He compared Parkash Singh Badal to Dhritrashtra in Mahabharat who was focused only on his son.

“We want to shake the corrupt system that has ruined Punjab and only selfless people can do that. Now is the time for change as the 10 year rule of Parkash Singh Badal was just dandatantar. This government has throttled democracy. This government had neither good intentions nor proper policies (Naa Neeyat, Naa Niti). Our fight is against such leaders”, he summarized.

“Jitega Punjab (Punjab will win). It is a revolutionary call from Awaz-e-Punjab to all good men to come forward to save Punjab. The issue is Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat”, he asserted.

The slogan of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat is clearly targeted against AAP that is being identified with outsiders.

At the same time, he maintained that no party was good or bad but it is the leaders who make it so.

Pargat was more articulate on the agenda of Punjabiat saying, “AAP has divided Punjabis”. He equated AAP with East India Company that enslaved India saying now this party was like Central India Company. He blasted AAP as anarchy in the garb of democracy and said arrogance had no place in democracy.

Sidhu skirted direct answer on his resignation from the BJP saying this question should be put to that party. He said the situation would become clear when he along with his associates take the final plunge of turning Awaz-e-Punjab into a political party  after gauging the mood of the people.

Pargat said the rot in Punjab had run so deep that people had even stopped questioning wrong doings of the rulers. “This system has weakened us genetically”, he said. This is what he and his colleagues want to change. He too had earlier met Kejriwal. He said entire politics of Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal revolved around money and muscle power.

The articulation of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat  had emerged at 75th anniversary conference of the Akali Dal at Moga in February 1996. The same thesis is now been taken up by the new permutations and combinations but in a different context. It is the agenda of outsiders versus insiders. Sucha Singh Chhotepur is also cobbling up his outfit on this very thesis.

It is the outsider cadre of AAP that is getting embroiled in controversies including exploitation of women. Leveling this charge is also AAP MLA in Delhi against the Punjab team. It is for this reason that Kejriwal had to announce that he was himself taking over the command. However, the damage has already been done.

It is the realignment of political discourse in the state along two axis that is the emerging trend and is likely to dominate.

The problem with AAP is that the party is concerned only with governance issues but Punjab is more than that. AAP’s ideological articulation about Punjab has been missing so far.


Jagtar Singh


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