The Punjab is in the mood for change as an unhappy voter seeks a “lesser evil”. Who will benefit from the disappointment?
Traveling in the Punjab for four days, nearly 1,200 kilometers through the three regions of Malwa, Majha and Doaba state and talking to at least 150 people – one thing is obvious. People are disappointed and want change. But who will cash this electoral disappointment after four months?
This key question appears to be an open game in Punjab ahead of the state’s scheduled elections in February next year. Farmers mobilized against BJP, and Akali Dal by default. Locals still complain about the corruption and drug trafficking that prevailed under Akali’s 10-year rule from 2007 to 2017. Many people say Congress is “everywhere”, deeply divided and that Captain Amarinder Singh didn’t do much for over four years. years and a half. Some also dislike Navjot Singh Sidhu, calling him more swagger than “CM material”, while the jury has yet to assess CM Charanjit Channi’s effectiveness.
“The only party against which there is no great anger is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). But no one knows who their CM face is. Without it, it’s hard to say if they’ll be able to make an impact, ”says Sukhwinder Singh, an elderly trader selling artifacts near the Golden Temple in Amritsar. The political discussion involves some of its clients, who say the AAP wasted a chance in the last election and it will be difficult for the party to convince people to give it a chance again. “The Punjabis go for a new thing once but not necessarily a second time,” says Navalpreet Kaur, here from Ludhiana.
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Rather, it appears to be an unfortunate Punjabi struggling to make a choice for the “lesser evil” as he seems disappointed with everything. But four months is a long time in politics and some big events until February could once again change the political landscape.
In the Punjab, it is the region of Malwa where the election is won or lost since it holds 69 of the 117 seats in the state. Last time, Congress did well in this region, but the AAP also made most of its gains here. Traveling here in Sangrur, Patiala and Moga, locals say there is a swell for the AAP but Congress is not totally out of the way. Agitation among farmers is a big problem in Malwa, but AAP’s promise of free power also seems to be resonating.
A congressional office in Patiala is locked after the exit of Captain Amarinder Singh. (News18)
The Akali Dal, however, appears to be missing from the narrative as he faces the full brunt of the wrath of the farmers as well as the impact of Faridkot’s police sacrilege and dismissal cases. Akali Dal even had to cancel a Yatra campaign due to protests from farmers.
The Congress played its card in Malwa by choosing in its senior positions a Jat Sikh in Navjot Singh Sidhu and a Dalit Sikh in Charanjit Channi, both from this region. “Channi’s entry as CM will improve the chances of Congress in Malwa as his influence extends to Morinda, Chamkaur Sahib and beyond in the region. His image is good. People would not have voted for Captain but could still vote for Channi and Sidhu, ”a group of farmers from Morinda told News18. Combine harvester Channi-Sidhu appears to be working on this strategy as well – blaming the captain for all the evils plaguing the Punjab and projecting that a new order is now in place to replace it.
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Majha and Doaba entanglement
This congressional refrain of a “new regime” replacing the previous one may not work so easily in the regions of Majha and Doaba. “The CM may have changed but the party is the same. They only fight among themselves, not for the people, ”says a group of customers of the famous“ Lovely Sweets ”store in Jalandhar.
The two new deputy CMs are from the region of Majha, headquartered in the holy city of Amritsar. In Majha, the impact of the AAP is also modest so far as the party is poorly organized. Amritsar still has a lot of support for Sidhu, given that he is the Member of Parliament for Amritsar (East).
However, several people in the Amritsar region appear to link this support to whether Sidhu will be the CM if they vote for Congress. Move around a bit inside the rural villages between Amritsar and Jalandhar and one can feel that the drug problem persists with almost all other families having a history of drug rehab or police action. There is anger against Akali Dal and Congress over this in the Majha region, with the belief that the two sides are hand in hand and the big fish are free. “Drug addicts get involved in business. Big fish always rule, ”said Harminder Singh, who worked in an NGO with drug addicts in Jalandhar.
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Politics in Doaba is dominated by SC voters and here the struggle now seems intense between the Akali Dal-BSP combine and the Congress led by CM Channi. Gursharan Singh’s family in Gurdaspur is a longtime BJP voter who contested seats here in an alliance, but with the party now splitting from Akali Dal, Singh told News18 he would vote for Akali Dal. We can never count on the Akali Dal who has an electoral base dedicated to the Panthic in the Punjab. It is the oldest festival in the Punjab. Urban voters in Doaba and Majha, who voted for the BJP, could move to Akali Dal, the party hopes.
Four months long in politics
Always forthright with their opinions, many Punjabis, however, said that a lot could change in four months if certain big things happened. One should be action against the Badal in the cases of sacrilege and dismissal of the police under the new Channi-Sidhu regime, which can be a double-edged sword – it could bring some congressional voters back to the issue. emotional but also consolidate the voter Akali. bank out of sympathy. The other is the promise of cheaper electricity if the power purchase agreements are canceled by the Channi government. “Costly power is a huge electoral problem. It affects all families in Punjab because the bills are exorbitant, ”a group of morning walkers told SAS Nagar (Mohali).
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Industrialists in Ludhiana appear to have dropped out of Congress, citing how they were forced to go out of business a few months ago after the power shortage crippled the state and how they have high bills. Trade unions of temporary and contract workers are also disappointed with Congress over policies, affecting a large electoral base. “We don’t know how much Channi can change in four months. He is making a few statements but there is no policy change yet, ”representatives of most of these unions told News18.
But no party yet seems able to take advantage of this disappointment and opposition to power. Congress is planning a new order to promise a fresh start and a trailer over the next four months. Akali Dal believes that the traditional cyclical political change in Punjab will bring it back anyway, amid the implosion of Congress. AAP tries to capture people’s imaginations a second time around and gets some traction. But Punjab is still an open game, and feedback from people News18 has obtained shows that Punjab could turn out to be the closest fight among the five poll-linked states in 2022.
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