COMMENT : AAP tsunami decimates the big & mighty in Punjab & …

Bhagwant Mann addressing the supporters on taking oath as the Chief Minister in Bhagat Singh’s village Khatkarkalan, and not at the Raj Bhawan, in Sangrur. Photo-ANI

MELBOURNE, 11 March 2022: Politics can throw up strange situations. But what has happened in Punjab is mind-boggling. The AAP tsunami has decimated the big & mighty. Led by Bhagwant Mann, Kejriwal’s Delhi magic has put the political titans to dust. The Election Commission website says the AAP won 92 seats out of 117. It’s a repeat of what’s happening in India’s capital, where the AAP victories have been similar. Delhi is a semi-state and Kejriwal shares power with the Modi-government appointed Lieutenant-Governor. The police forces are under India’s Home Ministery led by Amit Shah. This all vanishes in Punjab, a full-fledged state. It’s a political platter the people of Punjab have presented to the AAP.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress have alternatively been forming governments since 1966 in Punjab. AAP breaking this political spell is nothing but historic. Many heavyweights lost in the AAP surge. These include Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, former CM Prakash Singh Badal, former CM Amrenmdra Singh, Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Siddhu and Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia. Captain Amrendra Singh lost by 19,873 votes and Bhagwant Mann won by 58,206 votes from Dhuri.

The Tribune reports, “The oath-taking ceremony of the new Punjab cabinet will be held at Khatkar Kalan, the ancestral village of legendary freedom fighter Bhagat Singh in Nawanshahr district. Mann said no government office will display photograph of the chief minister. Instead, photos of Bhagat Singh and B R Ambedkar will be put on walls in government offices.

“The oath-taking ceremony will not be held at the Raj Bhawan, but at Khatkar Kalan. The date will be announced later,” Mann said addressing party workers and supporters at Dhuri. Appealing to people to work unitedly, Mann said those who did not vote for APP need not worry as the government will work for all sections of society.”

The BJP has won in the other four states where elections were held – UP, Uttrakhand, Manipur, and Goa. Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) has emerged as a strong opposition party in UP with 111 seats (the ruling BJP got 255) gaining 64 seats and the BJP losing 57 sitting seats. It’s a spectacular victory for the BJP in UP, but SP’s performance is not bad.

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It is essential to understand what consequences emerge from the BJP’s new victories. Being an ideological party, weeded to ‘Hindutva’ (Hindu nationalism), no doubt, the minorities and other vulnerable sections of society will feel more pressure. Economically, more moves towards neo-liberal policies are expected.

Still, the big news remains AAP landslide in Punjab. There is already a talk of the AAP emerging as a strong national party for the 2024 central elections, where PM Modi will attempt a third term. It is premature now to predict whether the AAP can do what many non-BJP analysts dream. The BJP party machinery is well oiled with state power, Modi’s personality cult, religion, funds, and RSS cadres. Whether the opposition can muster a viable anti-BJP (or non-BJP) combination in 2024 is an open question.

By Neeraj Nanda

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