Chandigarh:In a state where Sikhs enjoy the privilege of being in majority, it becomes evident that political parties in Punjab project a Sikh face as the chief ministerial candidate. Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) have always played safe on this track and have never dared experiment with the hot seat, keeping Hindu vote bank on number three in the priority list with Dalit factor on the second and Sikh votes on the top in every Vidhan Sabha elections after the state reorganisation took place in 1966. Almost 58 per cent of Sikh population and around 38 per cent of Hindu population in the state have set the basis of this ideology which the political parties have been adopting since the reorganisation of the state in 1966.
Since 1966, the people of Punjab have elected 15 chief ministers, all of them being Sikhs. For the very first time when Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal declared his arrival in Punjab in October last year and started campaigning for his party for Vidhan Sabha elections, the speculation of him being presented as the first non-Sikh CM candidate for Punjab started doing the rounds. Majority of Hindu population lives in urban Punjab, and AAP has been fighting hard to make a base in urban constituencies.
Lending a kind of credence to give first non-Hindu chief minister to Punjab, Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia hinted the same about a week back when in a public rally he asked the voters to vote as if they were voting for Kejriwal as their chief minister. However, a day after Kejriwal himself cleared that only a Punjabi will become the CM if AAP comes to power and he will keep serving Delhi.
Days after Kejriwal cleared that he will not become the chief minister of Punjab if AAP comes to power, he declared on Tuesday that chief minister candidate of the Aam Aadmi Party will be a Sikh. Talking exclusively to Daily Post, Kejriwal said that a Sikh face will be the chief minister of Punjab if his party wins the elections.
AAP has always claimed to be a secular party but it seems that with the passage of time the party’s core leadership has understood the pros and cons of caste and religion-based politics too. With Sikhs in majority in Punjab, it was evident that every party in Punjab would present a Sikh CM candidate. Now when Kejriwal has announced that a Sikh leader will be the CM, race to grab the top slot will intensify in due course of time.
It is pertinent to mention that Kejriwal has already announced that Deputy Chief Minister of AAP would be a Dalit. Punjab has almost 31 per cent Dalit voters of the total vote bank in the state. Historically Dalit factor has always proved vital in forming a government in the state. More precisely, 10 per cent of total population is of Mazbi Sikh, which covers both the factors of being a Dalit and a Sikh, seems to be tapped by Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP.
With this development, the speculation of Kejriwal becoming the chief minister of Punjab has come to a halt. One can see the likes of Bhagwant Mann, H S Phoolka, Sukhpal Singh Khaira and others wooing the party chief like anything. SAD has already declared Parkash Singh Badal as their chief minister candidate for the fifth consecutive time. Congress is yet to announce its candidate for the post of CM but Captain Amarinder Singh has already made it clear with Asha Kumari putting a stamp on it that Captain will be their chief minister if the Congress is voted to power in the state.
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