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India

Chief Ministerial Faces can be deciding factor in Punjab elections

January 25, 2022 02:47 PM
Two time Member Parliament Bhagwant is Aam Admi Party's CM face for 2022 assembly polls
Chanchal Manohar Singh

 Since the past couple of weeks, discussion on Punjab politics is trending, wherein entry of new political parties is the peg. People of all walks of life are making their opinions about upcoming assembly elections, especially baiting upon the face of the Chief Minister. It is apparent that the entry of new political parties in Punjab has thrown open floodgates of speculations for the 2022 Punjab Assembly Elections, making it a multi-cornered contest, thus making it challenging for the conventional parties, who are yet to announce their chief ministerial face.

Among the new entrants, the Sanyukat Samaj Morcha Party (SSM), an outfit of farmers, is the most popular one, as it is led by a prominent, farmers’ leader Balbir Singh Rajewal, who has allied with Gurnam Singh Chaduni’s outfit (Sanyukat Sangarsh Party, SSP). With a perceptible victory of farmers in repealing three contagious farm laws, the charisma of SSM leaders cannot be condoned in political galleries of Punjab. The people in Punjab, especially those associated with farming backgrounds, consider themselves closer to SSM, owing to their undeterred fight against three contentious  Farm Laws, believed to be anti-farmers.

Chief Minister Punjab Charanjit Singh Channi

In addition to SSM, there are two more political outfits led by prominent Punjab leaders of high standing, appearing to be tired and exhausted personalities like Capt. Amarinder Singh (Punjab Lok Congress) and Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (Shiromani Akali Dal,  Sanyukat). The foray of these new parties has significantly triggered challenges for the conventional political parties, but such a large number of political parties would also confuse the voters and divide them among parties with sectional interests. In such a scenario loser would be Punjab.

The failure of Capt. Amarinder Singh to gather enough crowd for PM Narendra Modi’s rally at Ferozepur has dented his image too much to the extent that it would not be possible for him to wash it away. As a chief Minister in his 2nd term Capt. Amarinder Singh had been following the BJP’s policies in Punjab as he was acting under their advice in running his administration. As has been projected as he did not rely much on Sikh bureaucrats during his four-and-a-half-year 2nd term in Punjab. Capt. Amarinder Singh's stamp is on how the school education has been destroyed in Punjab by whims of a bureaucrat, who was seeking advice on education policy from outside Punjab. 

Apparently, the contest would be among Indian National Congress (INC), Aam Adami Party, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) combination, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance with a conglomeration of two new outfits Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) led by two-time Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh and Akali Dal  (Sanyukat) are led by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and the newly formed fourth contestant is Sanyukat Samaj Morcha (SSM) and Gurnam Singh Chanduni's Sanyukat Sangarsh Party (SSP). Some non-existent left parties like CPM and CPI may also mark their presence by contesting the elections.

It would be too early to suggest which party would win the elections. However, it would be an interesting study as to who could be Chief Ministerial faces the parties would throw in front of the voters of Punjab.

On the basis of previous experiences and surcharged political atmosphere, it would not be difficult to assume CM faces of the political parties. For Congress, incumbent Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is a forerunner, as he is highly educated and a self-made Dalit Sikh leader. Channi was introduced to politics to pacify the infighting between Jat Sikh Congress leaders who were making claims for the top post following Capt. Amarinder Singh’s un-ceremonial exit from the Chief Ministerial position.

Two prominent Congress leaders Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Nav Jot Singh Sidhu had also made claims for Chief Minister’s post, but Congress's high command choose a Dalit face.

Ex-Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh, Chairman Punjab Lok Congress

Sidhu who had been fighting against Capt. Amarinder Singh for his pro-BJP and pro-SAD administration and politics, would not have accepted less than CM’s position like Randhawa and continues to be in a sullen mood, attacking his own party Government. Sidhu has been pressurizing Congress High Command to bring him as an iconic CM’s face for 2022. But Congress appears to be resisting to announce him as CM’s face, but, if it so announces, there is the likelihood of Dalit voters detaching from Congress. Also in just 185 days CM Channi has made a big mark on the minds of ordinary voters of Punjab and has become lokaan da mukhmantri   (common man’s CM). Therefore, Sidhu may have to live with this dichotomy. The Congress High command is also looking at a much bigger spectrum of attracting Dalits votes for the 2024 Parliament elections.

The AAP, Punjab has announced its CM’s face Bhagwant Mann. A leader who has extraordinary qualities of the great orator, and has enough of his following and support all over Punjab. He is a two-time member of parliament from Sangrur, who has shadowed the relevance of senior Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa for the voters of Malwa.

It is also pertinent to mention here that Punjab has no match for Bhagwant Mann as far as his performance in the Indian parliament is concerned. He has been put into best use his sarcasm skills to hit at BJP leaders even sometimes making a mockery of Indian Prime minister Narendra Modi. He also kept Congress parliamentarians brooding by his attacks on Congress leadership in parliament debates.  He is intelligent and understands the ground realities of Punjab. He has overcome his weakness of moving around in a hibernated state.

Farmers' leader Balbir Singh Rajewal, SSM

The three-party alliance of BJP designed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah has a clear choice Capt. Amrinder Singh as a CM face. Besides being a two-time CM, he is a shrewd and unethically cunning politician who knows how to kill or subsume his political opponents. His mission is to third time become the chief minister of Punjab, and with target is to defeat Nav Jot Singh Sidhu in assembly elections. His three-party combination with enough funds at its disposal and support of BJP high command Amarinder Singh succeeds in forming government in Punjab or not, if his alliance defeated, he would sit comfortably in Moti Bagh Place, Patiala as corruption cases against each member his family would now rest in Enforcement Directorates (ED) files in Delhi,   and would never be pursued by BJP government at the Centre, as per BJP’s policy.

The failure of Capt. Amarinder Singh to gather enough crowd for PM Narendra Modi’s rally at Ferozepur has dented his image too much to the extent that it would not be possible for him to wash it away. As a chief Minister in his 2nd term Capt. Amarinder Singh had been following the BJP’s policies in Punjab as he was acting under their advice in running his administration. As has been projected as he did not rely much on Sikh bureaucrats during his four-and-a-half-year 2nd term in Punjab. Capt. Amarinder Singh's stamp is on how the school education has been destroyed in Punjab by whims of a bureaucrat, who was seeking advice on education policy from outside Punjab. 

There is no doubt Sukhbir Singh Badal would project himself as a CM face of the SAD-BSP alliance, and he has also offered to make Dalit a deputy CM if this alliance is voted to power. However, Congress snatched away from him the possibility of cornering the majority of Dalit votes by appointing a Dalit of outstanding personality Channi as a Punjab CM.

SAD Chief Sukhbir Singh Badal

Reports have been emanating from within the SSM, and it is certain that Rajewal, would be projected as the CM’s face of both the farmers’ outfits during the election campaign.  His success would depend on whether he would be able to seek votes other than the farmers of Punjab. As it appears the farmers' votes would be divided among most of the major political parties claiming to be forming government in Punjab.

Whatever be the results, the upcoming assembly elections in Punjab would be an electrifying event to witness.

email: cmsingh.india@gmail.com

 

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