Congress, AAP To Fight For Punjab

Jalandhar (Punjab): The triangular contest in Punjab appears to be very close as the ruling SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal)-BJP combine fighting two challengers in the Congress and Aam Admi Party (AAP). The State is going to vote in assembly election on February 4 along with Goa.

The chances of the Congress got a boost with former cricketer and parliamentarian Navjot Sidhu joining it. Captain Amarinder Singh was able to contain dissidence with no grumbling heard after distribution of tickets.  Congress leaders are confident that their party has a chief ministerial candidate who is known for his administrative capabilities. He proved his mettle as a chief minister for five years. Captain Amarinder Singh is not like other docile Congress leaders. He is known for his strong views and no nonsense attitude. Congress has its presence in all the three regions of Punjab- Malwa, Doaba and Majha. The areas correspond to the deltas of Beas and Satluj rivers.

The AAP has a strong presence in the largest of these regions, Malwa, which accounts for 69 of the total 117 seats in Punjab Assembly. Diana has 23 while Majha comprises 25 assembly seats. About two months ago, the AAP had enjoyed first position in popularity. With two of the four MPs, who were elected on AAP ticket in 2014 general elections, thrown out of the party and the third MP keeping indifferent health and casual attitude, Bhagawat Singh Mann is the only AAP MP who has been actively campaigning for the party. The AAP chief Aravind Kejriwal’s announcement that he will stick to Delhi and his refusal to name the chief ministerial candidate in Punjab might go against the party. In contrast, the Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance have formidable chief ministerial faces.

Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, his son and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal are confident of retaining power because of good governance and welfare measure that helped the Below the Poverty Line (BPL) population. Reacting to the charge that there was no development during the ten year tenure of Badals and the drug mafia is ruling the roost with official patronage, the elder Badal said all this is media creation. The drugs problem was blown out of proportions to blame his government, the chief minister averred.

ASP leaders contend that people of Punjab are vexed with both SAD and the Congress. They are eager to welcome a new party which is bent in ending corruption. Though some of the leaders were expelled and some others are not enthusiastic, the party has been getting enormous support from the youth.

The main issues in the debate are: 1. Drug peddling. People say drugs are being imported from Pakistan and being widely consumed by the youth. 2. The corruption and nepotism being practised by the Badals. It had been a family rule with father-son- daughter-in-law clique calling almost all shots. The transport network is in the hands of Badal parivar. 3. Farm crisis has been allowed to consume farmers. In the north, Punjab accounts for more suicides by farmers after Bundelkhand in UP. The State which had been cited as an example for the success of Green Revolution, has been reeling under drought for many years. All the three parties promised farm loan waiver in their election manifestos. But no party had shown inclination to seriously tackle the issue.

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