Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Political Slugfest Ends – Wait till March 11, 2017

An Open Letter of an AAM AADMI – Political Slug-fest Ends – Wait till March 11, 2017

February 6, 2017

Dear Voters of Punjab,
This is the last but one open letter with regard to the Punjab elections. I will write again after the election results of March 11, 2017. Till then let us keep our fingers crossed.

After the voting on February 4, the fate of all the candidates has been sealed in the EVMs which are stored in the strong rooms of the administration. The voting percentage of about 77.3% of 1.99 crore voters remained lower than expected. It was good that female
voters came out in good numbers as compared to the male voters. The rural areas were found to be more enthusiastic to participate in the festival of democracy as compared to their urban compatriots. It was gratifying to note that it was more or less a peaceful exercise in the face of doubts. Besides these salient points, I think the biggest visible difference this time was that it was a keen three cornered slug-fest since the first elections in 1952. Till about 1967-68, it was a one sided affair with the Congress party in the lead with marginalized opposition from the Left parties, Akali Dal, Jan Sangh among others. The Akali led coalition under Justice Gurnam Singh broke the pattern and unseated the Congress in 1967-68 for the first time. Thereafter, the Congress party and the Akali Dal or Akali Dal led alliances played musical chairs and took turns in governing the state. This time a new player, AAP, appeared on the scene and upset the apple-cart. People in general welcomed this new development as they were yearning for a change. The traditional parties like Congress and Akalis and also the BJP were made to face a real challenge by the volatile volunteers and observers of the AAP. Almost all the 117 constituencies witnessed three cornered contests. Earlier last year, it was felt that AAP was making steady inroads and winning the favour of the general populace but later as time passed it lost the momentum due to infighting and corruption charges etc. Finally, in the run up to the elections on February 4, it turned out to be a keenly contested fight to reach the corridors of power in Chandigarh. The pollsters felt that no one party would be able to make it and it will end up in a stalemate. But after the elections, the revised assessments and analysis indicated that perhaps AAP will be able to make it with 60-65 seats and scrape through to form the next government. Let us wait for March 11 results and see the wonders of democracy.

Being a novice observer as an Aam Aadmi, I have been advising and sounding the AAP leadership about the importance of dalit vote particularly in the Doaba region. I have been suggesting reaching out to the educated dalit youth and established middle class. Though the dalits are a divided lot on the basis of political affiliations and also under the blind influence of religious and spiritual Deras yet the educated dalits are awakened and are keen to stand to vouch for their core interests. Any party with good and sincere approach to address their interests and concerns was likely to gain their favour.  Out of 23 seats in Doaba where dalits are concentrated, 15 seats depend on the dalit swing. These 10-15 seats would make or mar the next governing dispensation. This is my naïve assessment.

Considering my interest and inclination, on advice from the AAP headquarters in Delhi, I joined AAP on February 24, 2016. It is almost a year now that I have been associated with and working for the party as a humble foot soldier. For me, it has been a mixed but
educative experience. I was an aspirant to contest elections. But my party did not endorse my interest and application for this. I accepted the decision with grace as a trained, faceless and disciplined diplomat. Instead, I decided and worked as a self appointed ‘ears and eyes’ of the party in Jalandhar and shared, mostly in writing, my observations, assessments and analysis with the leadership particularly on the issues of concern and interest to the weaker sections of the society. I only hope that my humble contribution will find due recognition with the AAP leadership in the spirit of poetic expression of an English poet John Milton ‘those who stand and wait also serve’.

With this, I conclude this with all the best wishes to the people of Punjab. They will get the government they deserve after March 11.

With regards,

Yours truly,

(Ramesh Chander)
Ambassador – IFS (Retired)

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