Amarinder Congress continues its winning spree, now snatches Shahkot from Sukhbir

Chandigarh, May 31: The Congress under the command of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh in Punjab had maintained its tempo of victories in successive polls since February 2017 with Shahkot being the latest trophy. It is altogether a different dimension that his government is perceived to be non-functional and Capt Amarinder Singh in his second term is not known to be taking much interest in the affairs of the state.  But then the victory is his and that of his party.

Shahkot is the seat that the Congress has wrested from the Akali Dal, the party that is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP has little base in this areas but it is the defeat of the Akali Dal-BJP combine for the record. Ajit Singh Kohar of the Akali Dal whose demise necessitated this byelection represented this seat for five terms. Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal fielded  Naib Singh Kohar  from the dynasty.

It is another dimension of this by-election that is important. The Aam Aadmi Party, the main opposition party in Punjab in the Vidhan Sabha, could not muster even 2000 votes. The party is vacating its space  and it is Akali Dal that would occupy this space. The issue of AAP votes having shifted to Congress in this election is a different issue. Opposition space is different from AAP support base.

Such decimation can only be explained to the total disconnect of this party from the masses. The party is not only leaderless, it has just been reduced to press note and press conference party.

The situation has created opportunity for Sukhbir to dominate the opposition space. The voters in Punjab had pushed the Akali Dal-BJP combine to the third position after AAP in 2017.

AAP had put up a candidate rooted among the NRIs who had also been funding this party, besides providing support at every level. This section should now realize that they just can’t dictate religio-political discourse in Punjab. These people have been trying to intervene in the affairs of their native state all this time. The myth of AAP has finally been shattered.

Punjab is likely to be back to its bipolar politics.

However, the people have not forgiven the Akali Dal as yet. Both Sukhbir and former revenue minister Bikram Majithia led the Akali Dal campaign from the front but barely succeeded in security traditional support base.

The Akali Dal is part of the Modi government. However, the BJP leadership at the national level has ditched its alliance partner after providing it a cabinet berth. The Modi government has not even exempted the Langar items from GST. Langar is part of the basic Sikh tenets rather than just being free food.

The Shahkot result coincides with rumblings against the functioning (rather non-functioning) of Capt Amarinder Singh.  This latent discontent is like to subside presently.

AAP might be getting wiped out but its government in Delhi is emerging as model of governance with its focus on education and health. Punjab has nothing to show at the national level so far as governance is concerned despite its being the only Congress  government in a major state.

The run up to 2019 would be interesting in the backdrop of Shahkot victory.

AAP would have to undertake major overhaul of leadership in Punjab rather than making experiments in case the party has to survive.

Jagtar Singh


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