PUNJAB AT CROSSROADS: 2017 (PART 1)
Punjab, the land of Gurus, is once again moving towards yet another cross road. Only god knows which road will it take in 2017? The road which they take will decide its destiny, may be the ultimate destiny.
The electoral maneuvering has since been going on for quite some time now and political games are being played both on the stage and behind the curtains.
There are several issues / aspects which need consideration. For the sake of easy reading, I intend dealing with the entire gamut in a few installments.
In the first installment, that is this particular article, I will deal only with the general scenario.
The ruling ‘junta’ of the SAD-BJP combine, particularly the SAD is, from organizational point of view, in the happiest position. I remember that my ex friend Sukhbir Singh Badal, the incumbent Deputy Chief Minister cum the De-Facto Chief Minister used to say, way back in 2002/2003, that he was an apprentice in the ‘Capt Amarinder Singh’s School of Politics’ and that he has been a quick learner. Admittedly there was immense difference in the style of functioning both of the Congress and SAD governments. They were urban / rural oriented, had corporate / panchayat style of functioning was. Body language, spoken language, mannerism and gestures were also typical of these two distinct schools. When SAD came in power in 2007, Sukhbir has stated that he will turn his party into a kind of monolithic corporate kind of body and that he did. He passed out of his ‘self designated school of Politics’ with flying colours. Every one could see the change in him and in party functioning. He concentrated on organizational structure and strengthened it besides becoming, in the process, an administrator who could rule with iron hands and almost ruthlessly. And this is the reason that his party goes not have any open or discernible dissentions within. Yes there are some clashes of ego between some top leaders where Sukhbir, aptly has been using his father, to handle and diffuse the situation. Despite simmering egos and pent up frustrations amongst some, the party stands united.
BJP, the affiliate ruling group, is faction ridden with pockets of influence only in certain urban areas. It is not of much significance but for the reason that they head the ruling NDA alliance in Delhi and the SAD is heavily dependent on the prime minister for its survival and ‘daily bread and butter’ which Delhi doles out to Punjab off and on.
As against it, Congress, which is ruled and controlled from Delhi, is as united as a sieve with massive punctured holes. There are leaders at all levels; state, districts, block and even villages who are always ready and prepared to cut each other throats. The policy of ‘checks and balances’ pursued by their high command is primarily responsible for it. It does not want and single regional satrap from any of the states / organizational units who could challenge the High Command. A divided house is no threat o the ‘high command’ is their policy. As on date, though Capt Amarinder Singh might have been declared ‘Punjab Da Capt’ but he does not feel secure on account of internal dissentions. His announcement that 2017 is going to be his last try in electoral politics has only strengthened his rivals who see it as the ‘possible political demise’ not only of his political life but of his royal family as well. They are all the more determined to stab him in his back once and for all.
AAP, the next important party which came up well in Punjab, is also organizationally week. Youth, both in urban and rural areas might be swayed and swearing by the ‘broom’ but the lack of organizational discipline may kill their enthusiasm. Haphazard new inductions in the party, including that of some known turn coats, criminals and even those with tainted drug links will do them the maximum damage coupled with the disastrous damage that older ‘young turks’; now in the dumps, will do.
There are many other groups including the left oriented parties, the BSP and several newly mushroomed parties; all of which will only lead to division of votes in favour of the incumbent SAD-BJP. It is notwithstanding allegations by certain sectors that some of these groups and parties have been propped up by the ruling combine with that very purpose in mind.
To sum up, SAD and its alliance partner BJP are the strongest organized political group in the state and will have that clear advantage, from that point of view, in 2017. Rival political parties may do well to understand that they should not take SAD-BJP for granted on this ‘point no 1’…