Monday, January 2, 2017

A Year of Reckoning for Punjab

An Open Letter of an AAM AADMI – A Year of Reckoning for Punjab
January 2, 2017

Dear Voters of Punjab,

Happy New Year.

We have entered the New Year 2017, a year of reckoning for Punjab. The political landscape of Punjab is undergoing a fast change. Thus far the traditional parties i.e. the Akali Dal, the Congress Party and the BJP have been enjoying power by turn. The Akali-BJP alliance, in the last elections of 2012, came to power for two terms successively. But the scenario has changed with the entry of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The forthcoming elections scheduled to be held in a month or so, are going to be an interesting and serious bid to grab the levers of power in the state making the ear 2017 as a year of reckoning for Punjab. Apart from the Congress and the Akali-BJP alliance, AAP is the major player at the hustling. The new entrants like the APP of Sucha Singh Chhotepur, TMC of Jagmeet Brar, and Lok Insaf Party of Bains brothers would play as spoilers like the BSP. It seems difficult for the ruling Akali-BJP alliance to make it this time due to incumbency factor and misgovernance. The Congress bid under Amrinder Singh seems half hearted and the infighting would further complicate the situation. The AAP was enjoying an upper hand a few months before but the upswing has been halted due to bad management and lack of maturity. The allegations of corruption and role of money in distribution of tickets have tarnished the image of the party, of late. AAP may still be able to make it provided the leadership does some introspection without delay. I may mention a couple of pointers in this regard not as criticism but as positive suggestions. First, it appears that the central observers or monitors are heavily over-powering the campaign as a top heavy exercise. The candidates are at a loss to understand and direct their efforts according to their capacity and thinking. Most of them have exhausted themselves already much before the announcement of elections. The candidates must be given a free hand to run their campaigns. Second, the leadership and the candidates should stop standing on ceremonies and shed their personal egos in bringing along the estranged volunteers. I think a sincere and serious approach is needed in this respect which is unfortunately missing, it seems. Third, it must be understood clearly that in Punjab, SC vote bank has the master key to the doors of the Secretariat at Chandigarh. Any party who could wean away the SC votes is likely to make it. Congress lost the privilege of enjoying the SC support last time and lost the game. They have yet not done anything visible to rectify the situation. The Akali Dal-BJP alliance is aware of this ground reality, it seems. They, including PM Narendra Modi, are trying their best to own the legacy of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar with an added zeal. The recent
announcement of BHIM App is an immediate pointer in this direction. It appears that AAP has second thoughts in this regard. The AAP dalit candidates and leaders are mute and helpless. This monumental neglect of the SC constituency by the AAP, to my mind as I said earlier also many a times, would prove costly and unrewarding. It is advisable that the party should engage the dalit intelligentsia and seek their views and support on one hand and total involvement of the dalit candidates and volunteers in addressing the dalit issues. The sooner the better before it gets too late.

As I said the year 2017 will be a year of reckoning for Punjab. People want change. They visualized that change coming through the AAP – a party which professed to be a harbinger of Transformation and Systemic Change. Will the AAP meet the challenge and come up to the aspirations of people?  Will the AAP be able to demonstrate and prove that it really is a party with a difference? If the answers to these questions are in the affirmative, it will be good for Punjab and its people. If the answers are in the negative, it will be very unfortunate. Punjab will further slide into the mess of corruption, drugs and loot. 

Dalits who make more than 32% of the demographic share in Punjab require and yearn for due space both in the polity and society. They would need to stop, sit and think whether they can redeem their dreams by joining and affiliating with other parties or they need to go alone as a united entity like the Punjab Scheduled Caste Federation in tune with the original thinking of Babasaheb Ambedkar. With this, dalits may afford to have the balancing power to make or break any political dispensation rather than sitting at the margins without any say. I leave it at this as “food for thought.”

Let us see how the things shape up in the coming months of the New Year 2017. I conclude with my sincere good wishes to all Punjabis in bringing about a good change in Punjab in this year of reckoning.

With regards,

Yours truly,
(Ramesh Chander)
Ambassador – IFS (Retired)
Tele: 09988510940

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Shah Rukh Khan – Indian Films Icon

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