Chandigarh, November 21: Sangrur MP from the Aam Aadmi Party Bhagwant Mann was quoted by the newspapers on September 23 last making it absolutely clear that his party would not enter into alliance with any other political party in Punjab for February 2017 Assembly elections.
Here is his quote: “Any party or any front can give us outside support and in that case no leader from the front can contest the elections as per the constitution of our party.” His reaction was in the context of statement by former BJP MP Navjot Sidhu on entering into alliance with AAP. Nobody knows when was that clause in the constitution was dropped, in case there was any.
Mann has been quoted here as his view on forging alliance is the latest.
Within less than a month, AAP has entered into alliance with Punjab Insaaf Party represented by MLA brothers Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains. AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal seems to have finally realised that Punjab is not a cake walk as the party leaders had earlier been assessing before the split that saw state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur and his supporters forming Apna Punjab Party. Kejriwal is pragmatic rather than just being idealist. Political space is not for idealists whatever might be the tall claims as this party had been making when it hit the national scene with moralistic posturing to cleanse the body politic of all that is rotten. The main objective, like other parties, is now that of capturing power.
Bains brothers, Navjot Sidhu and then rebel Akali MLA and Olympian Pargat Singh had earlier announced the formation of a front that was given the name of Awaz-e-Punjab. This front had been constituted after over-ambitious Sidhu failed to work out any arrangement with Kejriwal. It may be mentioned that Sidhu had resigned his seat from Rajya Sabha to which he had just been nominated by the Bharatiya Janata Party. He had some big ambitions. He wanted AAP to announce chief ministerial candidate in Punjab along with his induction.
He made some hyperbolic assertions of serving Punjab at the time this front was announced. However, he disappeared from the scene after that announcement. Bains brothers finally decided to chart their independent course. Insaaf Party has been given five seats by AAP. Although names of these swats have not been announced today, two of these are those represented by the Bains duo. It is a big gain for Bains brothers while at the same time it reflects utter desperation in AAP leadership.
It goes to the credit of Simrajit Singh Bains that he succeeded in dictating agenda for one day special session of the Assembly last week. He had given notice for resolution demanding recovery of cost of river waters being supplied to Haryana and Rajasthan. This claim was on the basis of a clause in the 1955 agreement on apportionment of river waters. The hurriedly drafted official resolution talked of royalty on river waters. This was changed to cost after intervention by Simarjit. Treasury benches were just ill-prepared. It seems experts were not consulted by the Parkash Singh Badal government although special session of the Assembly had been convened on a single point agenda of river waters dispute with Haryana and Rajasthan, especially the construction of Satluj Yamuna link Canal whose land has been de-notified and returned to the owners.
While alliance between the two parties was announced in Chandigarh, Kejriwal made ‘big expose’ of the foreign accounts of the family of state Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh that have been in the public domain for the last about four years.
The effort seems to be to constantly hammer the point of both Amarinder and Badal families being corrupt. This could just be the one of the issues. Punjab is unlike any other state that also carries historical baggage.
Kejriwal has been charge-sheeted in the defamation case filed against him and his two other colleagues by Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia. This partly deflates his attack on the drug issue. Corruption is the other issue.
However, what Punjab needs is positive agenda, not just the rhetoric. AAP has mainly been resorting to rhetoric so far. The next five years are going to be crucial for this strategic state.