Alike the Akalis, regular incidents of farmers’ suicide, desecration of holy books, liquor smuggling, gang wars, high-profile killings, skyrocketing prices of sand and gravel have also started troubling the Congress government
The other day, Local Bodies’ Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu was heard claiming that his party would contest the coming Municipal Corporation elections based on the development agenda. Ironically, it was not the works done but the Congress minister was talking about the comprehensive development plan, which is yet in the framing stage.Addressing the masses and media persons at his home district Amritsar, Sidhu enlisted some sports parks, bridges and reconstruction of roads as the items on his government’s agenda for the local bodies’ polls.
It’s always good if the people in power think of developing the state but the way he was repeatedly announcing his “development agenda”, it reminded many among the audience of the Shiromani Akali Dal president and the former deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal’s “much-hyped” development agenda.
During his stint, Sukhbir used to speak a lot about the development being his poll plank. From every stage, it was the mention of bridges, roads, street lights, drainage channels, stadiums and power generation on the basis of which he would seek votes.Though he succeeded to bring his party in power for a second consecutive term in 2012, if one goes in depth, it sincerely was not the voters’ acknowledgement for the all-round development. The political observers found the emergence of third player “Peoples’ Party of Punjab” as the blessing in disguise for the Akali Dal as at many seats the Congress lost to it with a gap of fewer than 1,000 votes.
During its rule, the SAD-BJP government was accused of diverting various funds to develop Bathinda at the cost of other parts of the state. No doubt, Badals’ developed Bathinda city beyond the imagination of its residents but while going for votes, the urban voters opted for Congress candidate Manpreet Singh Badal rather than sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal.Though the Badal Bahu won the Bathinda Lok Sabha polls, with seven of the nine assembly segments falling in the Parliamentary constituency favouring her, the shock trailing in Bathinda (urban) segment by nearly 19,000 votes put the whole of Badal family to think if people really rejected their “development plank”.
I remember the days when after the elections Sukhbir and Harsimrat used to express their grudge with Bathinda (city) voters from their stages, with also reminding them the development projects including the boating club, widening of roads, beautification of the city, jogging park, etc. which came to the city during their tenure.Mention of the same kept on echoing from Akali Dal stage for months and finally, after facing the debacle in 2017 Assembly polls, they realised that people didn’t appreciate the overall development of the state.
The allegations of patronising drugs mafia, sand mafia, transport mafia and also the existence of gangsters and the killings of various high-profile social and religious figures, which the opponents took to the sky by exploiting all tools especially the social media, finally confined the SAD-BJP combine to just 17 seats in Punjab Vidhan Sabha.As per the precedent, the state ruling party usually sweeps the local bodies’ polls. So going by the precedent, the newly formed Congress government may also expect the repetition of the same this time too but there is a strong need to check the negativity hovering around.
Incidents of farmers’ suicide, desecration of holy books, liquor smuggling, gang wars, high-profile killings like the one Ludhiana witnessed four days back when unidentified persons shot a Pastor dead just at the entrance of a church, skyrocketing prices of sand and gravel, etc. are some of the key issues which are likely to disturb the Congress government in future, if not checked in time.With every wrong happened during the SAD-BJP rule, which the Congress people condemned and publicised to the best of their ability, is available for their reference, the Congress people must realise that voters have become so aware that now they see development as their fundamental right. So, rather than expecting the development as a guarantee to the victory, they must understand that now the basic criterion to win the polls is “how effectively you check the negativity prevailing in the air”.
And if not done in time, despite all efforts, the development agenda can’t be translated into votes.
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