Tuesday, February 27, 2024

2024 Election: Political Pot Nearing Boiling Point In Punjab

by Rajinder Singh Taggar

The political pot in Punjab is nearing its boiling point, with three main issues surfacing to trouble different political parties.

The main issue that will have a bearing on the general election results in the state is the opposition within the Congress state unit to ally with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). At the national level, AAP has aligned with INDIA (Indian National Development Inclusive Alliance), but at the state level, AAP finds no friends. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Leader Of Opposition (LoP) Partap Singh Bajwa have gone public with their statements against having any electoral alliance with AAP.

The reason cited is the “harmful” anti-corruption drive of the Bhagwant Mann government, which has netted several Congress leaders, including former cabinet ministers, as more are under the scanner of the Vigilance Bureau. PPCC has been calling the anti-corruption drive mainly targeting its leaders as a part of the political vendetta scheme of the AAP government.

Yet another grievance of the Congress is the high-handed conduct of the AAP government in keeping MLA Sukhpal Khaira – a die-hard critic of AAP – behind bars in an old case and then, on the day of his release on bail, arresting him in an apparently bogus FIR.

As is his wont, the former president of PPCC, Navjot Singh Sidhu, is in the best of his defying spirits by holding political rallies without the consent and consultation of Congress’ state unit. PPCC has disassociated itself from Sidhu’s activities and even termed it an act of indiscipline.

On the other hand, Sukhbir Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is currently experiencing challenging times of a different kind. The release of DGP B P Tiwari’s 24-year-old inquiry report on the extra-judicial killing of the then Jathedar of Akal Takht Gurdev Singh Kaunke by the PHRO (Punjab Human Rights Organisation) has exposed the archaic “complicity and duplicity of the then Akali leadership”. Parkash Singh Badal was the CM from 1997 to 2002 when Tiwari submitted his report to him on July 27, 1999.

AAP and Congress leadership in Punjab could not have asked for more after the surfacing of the Kaunke report, which has stirred politics with Badal Dal scurrying for shelter. Last weekend, SAD leadership collectively went to meet the widow of the slain religious leader in Jagraon, assuring all kinds of support. The effort is to give the impression that the Badal faction of Akalis still cares for the Sikh sentiments. However, Sukhbir Badal did not speak a word about the burying of the Kaunke report that established that Kaunke was killed and was not missing, as was being made out during Akali and Congress regimes.

The much-talked-about possibilities of an alliance between the BJP and the SAD have receded after the Kaunke report went public. Both parties know that individually, they need more strength to make a mark in Punjab politics. The Sikh-centric SAD and Hindu-centric BJP understand that an alliance between them is the only political concoction which can bring good political results in Punjab for the two.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Khalsa Vox or its members.

Rajinder Singh Taggar

Consulting Editor

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