Dividing Punjab and Punjabiat: Congress’ dangerous election policy
by Jaibans Singh on 19 Nov 2021 18 Comments

Punjab is going through one of the most unfortunate and dangerous phases in its long and noble history. The current phase is unfortunate because the land and its people are beset with huge problems, including lack of employment, faltering economy, dangerously deteriorating environment, drug addiction, an exodus of youth due to unfettered migration, control of natural assets by the mafia, and a host of other problems.


This is a sad phase because political leaders who are responsible for resolving the problems are overwhelmed with petty concerns to grab power by any and every means. They have no compunction in misrepresenting facts and telling blatant lies if it serves their political purposes. They are unmindful of the repercussions of their hate-filled diatribes and least concerned about the huge problems faced by the region to which they give only lip service.


The State is in a dangerous phase because the utterances of politicians have the potential to engineer a divide between the various communities that have coexisted peacefully for millennia. More serious is the space their verbal misadventures are opening up for the enemy sitting across the border.


Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, in a speech at the 16th session of the 15th Punjab Vidhan Sabha, touched the nadir of unbecoming and degrading politics. Attacking the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the CM used the most derogatory language against the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), saying that the Akalis were the gateway through which the RSS managed to make inroads in the State and that the RSS has always been inimical to the interests of Punjab.


These diatribes do not stand the test of history or empirical evidence as the RSS has been worked in Punjab for decades before the BJP entered a coalition with the SAD. Its services during the Partition and War of 1947-48 were exemplary. Also, all through the coalition period, the RSS as a social organisation worked for the social uplift of Punjab and kept aloof from the politics of the coalition.


Charanjit Singh Channi failed to clarify how and why he felt that the RSS has “always been inimical to the interests of Punjab”; the remark hung in the air as an unsubstantiated and immature remark that does not behove any political leader, let alone the chief minister of a State.


The complete address of the Chief Minister lacked focus and rested on an odious and insufferable diatribe that exposed his frustration and insecurity. It seems he has realised the abject failure of his earlier attempts to gain the confidence of the people by giving doles and now wishes to make a bid for power on the basis of a “divide and rule” policy.


His poor performance in the State Assembly was followed up by yet another dangerous move: he announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to the 83 persons arrested for violence in Delhi on January 26, 2021, during the farmers’ tractor march.


Channi is obviously misusing his office in a manner that spells disaster for Punjab and must be checked before it is too late. He needs to be legally challenged for his hate speech against the RSS, the BJP and the SAD. The Centre should assess the impact of such hate mongering on communal harmony in the sensitive border state and its potential to escalate into a security issue, both internal and external.


Regarding compensation to the agitators under arrest, there must be a legal clarification as to how taxpayers’ money can be used to compensate persons facing criminal charges. In fact, the entire dole packages announced by the Chief Minister should be brought under CAG scrutiny to identify the means by which they can be fructified as the government is already reeling under the worst-ever financial crisis. 


The election campaign in the State is based on blame game and stinging statements that are leaving the people insecure and disturbed; only the BJP is maintaining its dignity. The party has openly admitted its mistake in staying allied with the SAD and is working hard to give good options in all 117 constituencies and a wholesome election manifesto.


The BJP has always been in favour of the farmer community in Punjab and across the country. It understands that there are some segments among Punjabi farmers who have reservations on the provisions of the three farm laws, and has kept the door open for talks to resolve all issues. It is confident that eventually farmers will understand the attempt to bring direct benefits to the small farmer.


While the regressive election campaigns of opposition parties can be accepted with a pinch of salt, the dangerous path that the ruling Congress party has adopted has repercussions for the security, economy and social fabric of the State. Engineering of a community divide in the “land of Gurus and Pirs” is intolerable. Any attempt to divide Punjab and Punjabiat is unbearable. The misguided election policy of the Congress, for which it has made its incumbent Chief Minister a scapegoat, cannot be allowed to go on unchecked. Congress is a directionless meteor that will cause vast damage when it falls.


(Jaibans Singh is a Geo-strategic analyst, columnist and commentator) 

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