Chandigarh, September 19: Punjab Congress is all set to organize more than 50 public meetings per day as part of Operation Carpet Bombing in the battle for ballot in the state beginning last week of this month. In the perception of state party chief and former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, it is the Aam Aadmi Party that would be the worst hit yielding its present second place to the Shiromani Akali Dal. The final bout would be between the traditional rivals-the Congress and the Akali Dal, both the oldest political parties in the country with permanent support base in this border state. It is mainly the floating section that had got attracted towards AAP but going by several myths about this party getting shattered, the floaters are likely return to their earlier positions. It is this section that plays the decisive role.
This in brief is the summing up by f Capt Amarinder Singh who is the only Congress leader who succeeded in making inroads in the traditional Sikh support base of the Akali Dal during the last two decades. He continues to be popular in what is known as the Panthic section in the Sikh religio-political matrix.
In an informal chat with the media persons here, he claimed the support of 51 per cent of the voting people in Punjab followed by AAP with 31 per cent share. However, he is confident that the AAP support base would definitely get eroded with the party being confronted with all sorts of controversies including exploitation of women in Punjab. It is pertinent to mention that the AAP leaders have been quoting 100 seats on the basis of some non-descript survey to which their leaders and propaganda machinery continue to stick to.
However, AAP is faced with vertical split in its ranks with its past state president Sucha Singh Chhotepur having parted company. Chhotepur succeeded in carrying with him seven out of 13 coordinators. Now they are his foot soldiers. He is trying to cobble up a broader outfit by roping in rebel party MP like Dr Dharam Vira Gandhi. Then there is another front under the Awaz-e-Punjab banner that is still to get activated after the initial announcement. The front includes former 3-time BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu, rebel Akali MLA pargat Singh and two independent MLAs Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains, both brothers.
However, Sidhu performed the vanishing act immediately after making formal announcement about the front. Chhotepur and front leaders are sorting out the arrangement to work in tandem, if not outright merger. According to sources, Dr Gandhi has some reservations about RSS love of Navjot Singh Sidhu. Chhotepur, on his part, has held back the formal announcement of launching his independent party under the banner of AAP Punjab. The design is to present is as the real AAP wedded to the original ideals with democratic federalism from which the party headed by Arvind Kejriwal backtracked. AAP leadership is now perceived as autocratic and dictatorial killing inner-party democracy. This is one party in which a person can get the epitaph of “senior leader” within hours of joining it.
With the myth of its being a party that symbolized value based politics having crashed, the youth that has been its backbone are now in a dilemma. Similar is the case with AAP’s NRI support base if former British Columbia premier Ujjal Dosanjh currently visiting Punjab is to be believed. The Canadian leader has expressed the view that the Punjabi NRIs are now drifting away from AAP. NRIs have been a solid support base of AAP who have also been funding this party.
With the AAP trying to project its recent Bagha Purana rally near Moga as evidence of its support being intact despite split, the Congress is planning a mega show at Moga itself, possibly by October 10 which would be attended by Rahul Gandhi. In view of the paddy arrivals starting October 1, this is the only window available otherwise the party would have to wait till November. It is planned to attract about 5 lakh people to Moga rally.
Amarinder is presently waiting for the outcome of the latest survey. However, he has his own calculations and the Congress is now presenting itself as fully united and fighting outfit.
The party has succeeded in activating almost every Congressman especially for the intensive campaign beginning later this month during which 10 to 12 meetings would be organized in every constituency.