Capt Amarinder plays Hindu card by projecting Jakhar as chief minister
Chandigarh, The Narendra Modi factor might not play an effective role in the electoral dynamics of Punjab but the Congress in the state is taking no chances.
The BJP is in alliance with the Akali Dal in this border state and the alliance is focusing more on non-Sikh vote bank due to the issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib dominating the electoral dynamics that is different from the religio-political domain.
Shiromani Akali Dal lacking in own narrative is projecting the BJP agenda thereby repeating its disastrous 1999 strategy when the alliance was wiped out in the state. The Akali Dal was in power at that time with Parkash Singh Badal as the chief minister. It may be mentioned that Sukhbir Singh Badal too had tasted defeat in that election. The BJP agenda in that election was seeking people’s mandate on the issue of foreign origin of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
This party that for decades articulated the concerns and ambitions of the Sikhs is now seeking votes on the agenda of another term for Modi, the man who is under attack for his divisive politics.
Jakhar is seeking re-election from Gurdaspur, the seat this man from Abohar had won in the byelection in 2017 with a massive margin. BJP in the absence of a strong local candidate has brought in film actor Sunny Deol to confront Jakhar.
At least four Assembly segments in this Lok Sabha constituency are Hindu dominated where Narendra Modi factor can play important role.
It was in Bhoa constituency in this Hindu region that Capt Amarinder Singh made the strategic announcement that Jakhar too can become the chief minister at appropriate time.
This is not an ordinary announcement keeping in view the religio-political dynamics of Punjab.
The chief minister in this border state has always been a Sikh since 1966 when Punjab turned Sikh majority region for the first time in history after its trifurcation, the second division after 1947 partition. Punjab ruled this region but the Sikhs were the third demographic group in this region during Khalsa Empire.
None has so far even talked about a Hindu becoming a chief minister here.
It is also a fact that it is the Congress that has been articulating Hindu concerns in Punjab with the saffron brigade surviving only in alliance with the Akali Dal. The first time the Akali Dal joined hands with the Jan Sangh in Punjab was in 1967 when the party formed the first government.
It is for this reason that the announcement made by Capt Amarinder Singh is strategic.
The party has not even released its manifesto this time.
It is to make Modi card ineffective that even Pulwama is being questioned by the Congress leaders by referring to the timing. Another point that it being hammered is as to why the bodies of Pulwama victims were first flown to Delhi rather than having been to their native places.
Modi might not be an effective card but the Congress is taking no chances.
Sunny Deol might be an attraction for the youngsters but this presence is lacking in rural areas.