Ground Zero :
Informal formation within Congress emerges to occupy Opposition space in Punjab
Chandigarh, August 11: Punjab is witnessing an interesting and unprecedented phenomenon in its political spectrum.
With Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and House of Badals perceived to be in collusion and the Aam Aadmi Party having disintegrated with remnants miserably failing to perform, a new informal formation is emerging to occupy the space of effective Opposition in Punjab’s political matrix. It is within the ruling Congress in the state.
A visit to Badal village is enough to re-inforce the perception of this place being the sub-capital of Punjab. It is a different matter that Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal has his residence about 500 meters from the sub-capital but he has already protested against his functional status in the area of not being more than a municipal councillor.
Badals' residence at village Badal : Twitter Photo
A group of Congress MLAs led by a section of ministers has made it known to Capt Amarinder Singh unambiguously that with this perception persisting, the Congress is doomed in the state. At stake is the political future of these young and some not so young MLAs and ministers.
Capt Amarinder Singh at one stage had given the impression that he had dealt a severe blow to House of Badals at the political level following the release of Justice Ranjit Singh Commission report on sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. The investigation is not moving further. Moreover, the state government flip-flopped on the issue of CBI filing closure report in the cases relating to this narrative that this agency was probing. The CBI filed the closure report despite the fact that the probe had been withdrawn from it by the state government following a resolution adopted in the state Assembly following 7-hour marathon debate on Ranjit Singh Commission report.
The special investigating team that was constituted by the state government stands publicly divided with one section in Chief Minister’s Office backing the split.
This government all this time after coming into power in March 2017 has failed to even introduce a new time-table for buses in the state. The existing time-table favours buses of the House of Badals. Ironically, the damage to the Badals at the political level from these buses is much more than the pecuniary gain. This is one issue on which the members of this informal formation are highly agitated.
It is said the people manning the Badal transport are more powerful than the state transport department officials.
With Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal informally sharing the perks of power, the Akali Dal is not just picking up. This is the worry of the senior Akali Dal leaders. Earlier, it was being felt that the Akali Dal might be on the revival path with both Sukhbir and his wife Harsimrat Kaur winning the Lok Sabha election. They are the only two from Akali Dal who won but the situation has not changed at the grassroots. That is not happening.
Nothing much has changed under Amarinder government as people continue to die due to drugs and farmers continue to commit suicide. Drugs are as freely available as during Badal government. The postings and transfers of officials in districts like Bathinda and Muktsar are virtually dictated by Badals, or at least this is the perception.
This perception is reinforced by rush of the people at the fortress-like residence of the Badals to get their work done is and not at the house of Manpreet Singh Badal.
Would the BJP jump in to take the risk after breaking its alliance with the Akali Dal?
Under the changing political narrative in the country after Jammu and Kashmir, nothing can be ruled out. The Congress under the prevailing situation won’t be able to stop BJP take-over of Punjab in 2022.
Rather a section both from the Akali Dal and the Congress might be tempted to shift.
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