Politics is all about perception, either one agrees or not. It is the one thing that eventually gets people elected and government defeated. It is for what someone pretty well said: “In politics perception is reality and the truth is negotiable.” Senior leaders of Punjab Congress understand it well but they are apparently helpless to check the unsavoury controversies, which are doing but only damage to their electoral prospects.
The flip-flop on Kamal Nath issue once again endorsed the general notion that the Congress high command and state leadership lack proper communication that results into fiasco, leaving the cadre with no option but to believe that their leaders sitting in Delhi act on the basis of their whims and fancies, totally ignoring general sentiment prevailing in the society. It took just a few minutes after the announcement of Kamal Nath as the party’s state affairs in-charge that the Congress workers at grass roots level in Punjab were finding themselves cheated upon, since their newly appointed leader’s name had cropped up once in 1984 anti-Sikh riots case as an accused.
Though the Nanawati Commission had given clean chit to this political sharp-shooter of the Congress party, the Akalis and anti-Sikh riots lawyer and AAP leader HS Phoolka were quick to come out with their ammunition of allegations against Nath, immediately after his name for the position was made public last week. Ironically, it was not only the opponents but the resentment among the party cadre forced Kamal Nath to tender his resignation from the position of state affairs in-charge, which was accepted by the AICC chief Sonia Gandhi on June 16.
Though Nath quit before even arriving at Punjab, it made the Sikh populace settled across the world to suspect the intentions of not only the Congress high command but also that of the PPCC chief Capt Amarinder Singh, who had once quit the Congress in protest against the Operation Bluestar. Furthermore, Amarinder’s coming out in defence of Kamal Nath stating that public perception should be based on truth and not myth also didn’t go down well in the cadre as the state is already hyper sensitive over the issue sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib and other Sikh issues.
Perhaps, the former Armyman, who now claims to have a political experience of over 40 years, underestimated the dent of such gestures on his party’s poll prospects. Going ahead, Punjab Congress is now bound to go by the suggestions and programmes being chalked by the poll strategist Prashant Kishore, an appointee of AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi. No doubt, the events organized by the Kishor’s IPAC team are gaining good response, but at some level the action and intervention of IPAC is creating restlessness among the staunch loyalists of Amarinder, specifically the big landlords, as they were not open to such experiment.
Ironically, the young turks of the IPAC team are also quite vocal while going in public to take the feedback, as many among them have been heard of introducing their team as the bridge between the masses and Amarinder, mentioning that “Maharaja Sahib” had lost his connect with the public at grass roots level for the past sometime. Such statements will not be appreciated by his supporters as these will hardly be helping to develop positive impression of Amarinder, who this time has to face not only the SAD-BJP combine but also the AAP, a party claiming to be of clean image common men.
Not enough, the indiscipline and quarrelsome attitude of Congressmen, which is nowadays quite common in public meetings of the party, is gaining nothing else than bad name. Not only juniors, the intolerance was also witnessed at senior level few days back when MLA Sukhjinder Randhawa assaulted Seva Dal leader IS Gulati during Capt’s Dinanagar dharna. Just 10 days after, the incident got repeated at CM’s home turf Lambi, where Amarinder was holding dharna against an alleged recruitment scam and the factions of the party again came to blows. They didn’t even mind tossing turbans of each other.
In the clash, many of them were injured. Though finding it a major embarrassment for him and party, Amarinder suspended one of them on Sunday. It is a tough task for him to check such ‘shameful’ instances in future as the rivals are already ready to welcome the suspended lot. This is the time for the Congress to understand it that there is no more powerful agent of change than perception. At this juncture every single ill-advised move of the Congress, especially of Capt, is sure to take them away from encashing the so-called ‘anti-incumbency’ factor prevailing in the state.
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