It is already mid October and Punjab is fast heading for the electoral deadline of January 2017, but still the political scene is hazy. The question 'who will form the next government in 2017' remains a big question mark only. Though the seasonal market of pre-poll surveys is still to catch up, but as a former bureaucrat (apologies for using this title reserved for my friends in the IAS), police and intelligence man, all in one, I hardly have any faith in such surveys because most of them have since become exclusive marketing and image building tools.
The very first indication, for me, comes from the bureaucratic race (all services included but Punjab police officials being at the very top) that starts much before every assembly election. Police has always been the strong arm of the Punjab government (of course this is the scene everywhere else as well in the country called 'India, that is Bharat'). Tyranny is either let loose or ‘maintained’ through them. As the marked tool of oppression they are the most worried lot as to who is going to be in power. Of course whatever party comes in power, is soon 'placated' by them by becoming the very tool in their hands (apologies for the pun, my old friends turned foes, in Punjab police. I know that you have nothing personal against me and that it is just one of the easy ways out to keep some of the powers that be, placated. It costs nothing. Only a bit of tongue wagging is required).
Apologies my readers, for having digressed from the topic. I am not getting younger day by day. So for me this bureaucratic rat race is the very first indicator about the identity of the possible victor at the hustling. Officialdom is one class which remains at the cutting edge and they are often aware of the pulse of the people. Now I have no answer to your possible question as to why they don't try to come up to the expectations of the people whose pulse they are aware of. To sum up the matter in one line, this rat race has not yet commenced so I can not give you any clues as to who may form next government in Punjab. Please keep watching them and their rat race.
The next indicator, for me, comes from the illegal you yet prevalent 'satta bazar'. ‘Satorias’ (those playing satta) keep a very close watch on the ground reality because who wants to lose his money? Satta is played on almost each and every issue and they are one of the best gauges.
Somehow the 'gaffe baji' (boasting) market is also still to pick up. Various political leaders are still to start claiming victory and brag with their mouths wide open. Mild claims have started but the real electoral fever is still about a month or so away.
Anyhow, this ‘literary’ part notwithstanding, election mania is subdued as on date in Punjab. AAP which was almost sure, till about some months back, to form the next government, is fast losing ground particularly in urban centres. The first ‘Indian Chief Minister without portfolio’ has not been able to regain the lost ground. Congress, still has to start its campaign in an aggressive manner (my apologies PK, you are doing good but Punjab needs somewhat an aggressive approach). From the side of SAD, older Badal can often be seen having darshans of the sangats in company of one particular IAS officer and doling out government grants both in cash and kind. Younger Badal is spending more time in his war room planning electoral strategy and mustering resources, keeping an eye on emergence of new political groups which will be his best bet because division of votes is what is going to benefit him the most. Believe me, he is one of the best political strategists and makes no bones about. BJP is nowhere to be seen except in some press news, here and there, trying to arm-twist its alliance mate in a bid to get higher ‘quota’.
Recently mushroomed, as also other minor parties stand no chance except indirectly helping the ruling alliance by proxy. They will only lead to division of votes thereby paving way for the return of the SAD guys.
It may be too early to predict anything but it appears that Punjab is heading for a hung assembly. And in such a scenario only a party with massive assets can come into power. It appears that as on date only SAD has the ‘power’. Ideal situation could be an alliance between Congress and AAP or Navjot throwing in his weight with either of them but again as on date it is just a hypothesis without any legs.
So better wait and watch.
In a nut shell, it is a hung assembly as on date with an advantage for the SAD and Sukhbir could be the next Chief Minister…