By Raju William
Politics is after all a battle of perceptions. The resignation of BJP’s Punjabi stalwart Navjot Sidhu from Rajya Sabha membership has expectedly generated in equal measure hope and dismay among supporters of his brand of politics and opponents. But for the political observers, this development should be perceived as the one that may bring the ongoing political battle in Punjab on an even keel.
Though the perception that this write up is going to harp on is not new, the urgency of transforming the Punjab’s polity back to health calls for yet another attempt to set the hope of this lingering perception to sail. As of now, it is not the AAP but Punjab which is looking for a new leader who fits in this public perception of being capable of sailing Punjab out of the prevailing turbulent waters.
Of the three main stakeholders-SAD-BJP combine, Congress and AAP- the latter despite having stormed the public perception seems to be handicapped for want of a genuinely bonafide Punjab leader whose absence is being seen as a window of hope for the SAD-BJP and the Congress to return to power in Punjab. For a political level playing field, it becomes all the more imperative that AAP finds a leader who could be projected as its chief ministerial candidate.
Negative sentiment prevailing against the incumbent SAD-BJP government is unprecedented and the populace seems to have become so desperate and bitter that ‘outsiders’- a tag slapped on the AAP leadership by Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD)- are being looked upon as saviours. And this exactly is the reason that a daily tirade of political and social castigation has been unleashed against these ‘outsiders’ in the form of media statements and public addresses by the SAD leadership from the top to bottom.
The perceptible change from development discourse, of late, to tacit communal posturing betrays the apprehensions of the SAD and its ally BJP of losing the ground to these ‘outsiders’. And the latter understand this very clearly. But their dilemma so far is the absence of leader whose credentials boasts of a right blend of a Punjabi, Sikh and Jat leader with a clean image who is equally acceptable among the non-Sikh sections of the Punjabi electorate.
But Sidhu’s credentials seem much more boastful. He is vastly popular as a celebrity with pan India appeal and above all slick enough that no charge of corruption has stuck on him so far. In public perception, he also enjoys reputation of a fighter unlike spineless leaders who compromise all they hold dear when tempted with positions of power and pelf.
Whether Sidhu joins the ranks of these ‘outsiders’ or not is a matter of political speculation and better still his personal choice but his resignation has already become a talking point. The buzz created in the wake of his resignation in mainstream media and social media has provided a fresh topic of discussion and speculations among his admirers and haters.
Contrary to public posturing, the rivals SAD-BJP and the Congress must have a reason to worry. Should Sidhu join the ranks of APP, the prospects of BJP too will sure get a knock. For the APP which has been desperately looking for a leader who could match the appeal and popularity of Badals and Capt.Amarinder Singh, the resignation by Sidhu could be a reason for smile and hope.
Coming as it does after the recent reshuffling of the union cabinet, it can be assumed that Sidhu must have taken this step purposefully and after a great deal of introspection. His post-resignation comments to a leading national TV Channel that ‘the people of Punjab are looking for a change’ is a clear indicator of his likely choice. Will his personal perception of ‘change’ in Punjab dovetail the prevailing public perception? No answer to this till Sidhu formally announces his choice of political turf in Punjab.
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