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Delhi Model Vs Green Punjab

Manoj Varghese Manoj Varghese
24 Jan 2022

A deliberate claim is being made to replicate the Delhi model in the poll-bound states of Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Earlier, it was the Gujarat model that had taken the front seat of publicity campaigns in the states. Once exposed, no one claims it to be the best model, instead turns it round to be a ‘propaganda model’. Delhi model gives a provision of freebies like free education, electricity, water, transport, among others. These freebies have a political compulsion with no accountability. In Delhi, the revenue of over Rs 10,000 crore is to be recovered from the opening of over 1000 liquor shops against the existing 300-odd ones.

Addressing the industrialists, traders and councilors, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Navjot Singh Sidhu disclosed his Punjab model as a cure for all the financial problems in the states. He asserted that “Punjab Model 2022” will create jobs and reverse the trend of youths moving abroad. He also assured the business community of abolishing the “Inspector Raj” and leading the state towards a ‘Green Punjab’. 

The Government policies that once empowered farmers in Punjab to usher in the Green Revolution are fast losing its relevance in the field of agriculture. Punjab’s agricultural growth rate, at 5.7 per cent, was more than double the country’s average of 2.3 per cent during 1971-72 to 1985-86. This has reversed between 2005 and 2019 with Punjab at 1.9 per cent and India at 3.7 per cent. The latest NSSO-SAS data for 2018-19 reveal that on the criteria of agricultural household income, when normalised on a per hectare basis, Punjab ranks 11th among major states. And if one uses the landholding size as given in the Census of 2015-16 (3.62 hectares), Punjab slides to the 21st position.

Bhagwant Singh Mann, who secured 93 % support, in a first of its kind public opinion from 21 lakh respondents, has been declared as the CM candidate of AAP. What goes in his favour is that he is the most vocal and Opposition leader of AAP in Parliament. And, what goes against him is that the image of a ‘drunkard’ in Parliament. In 2016, a few MPs asked the Lok Sabha Speaker to send him to a rehabilitation centre for “drugs and alcohol de-addiction.” The charge against him was raised by his own AAP MP Harinder Khalsa saying, “Maan remains under the influence of intoxicants or liquor and does not attend proceedings without being intoxicated.”

According to the Times Now and Veto survey declared on January 13, AAP is emerging as the largest party in Punjab. Congress will procure 34.8 %, AAP 40.3 %, BJP 4.64% and SAD 16.83% of votes. In the Assembly of 117 MLAs, Congress will gain 44-49 seats, AAP 55-58, BJP 0-5 and SAD 13-16 seats. Among the leaders preferred for the CM post are: Charanjit Singh Channi scored 33%, Bhagwant Maan 27.31%, Sukhbhir Singh Badal 10.3%, Sidhu 4.1%, and Capt Amrinder Singh 2.2%. Another survey of ABP C-voter also projects in the same manner, giving an indication that AAP is likely to emerge as the single largest party in Punjab. While two surveys have predicted a hung House, the Shiromani Akali Dal is expected to emerge as the kingmaker.

As per political experts, AAP is growing on the votes of BJP and SAD. It was leading before Channi became the Chief Minister. Once seated on the throne, Channi has created his own aura and has proved his mettle in over 100 days in power. Selection of candidates will be key for the parties, with almost one-third voters deciding on the face value. Congress has an edge, as the split of opposition helps to overcome incumbency votes.

Congress is a divided house. In a recently released party video, Sonnu Sood, the actor appreciates the way Channi has gone through the struggles and reached to CM’s post. Sunil Jhakar and Sidhu are nowhere visible in the video. This shows the concurrence of party and the high command. Channi is banking on the 30-35 % votes of Dalits. Maan represents Jat community with 20% vote share. The general impression after the recent ED raid is that PM is taking revenge and the public sympathy is building up in favour of Channi. People have a good perception about AAP, but not on Maan. 

Sukhbir Singh Badal is the unanimous choice of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Western part of Punjab supports him, but is defamed for ‘badhami’, corruption and drugs. Unlike the other contenders being controlled from Delhi, Badal claims to be in full control of Punjab matters. But he has failed to put forward his narrative. He is well connected with his party workers up to the panchayat level. 

The BJP is set to bear the brunt of the farmers’ anger over the now-repealed farm laws as both the surveys have predicted two seats for the saffron party which has joined hands with Captain Amarinder Singh. In 2017, the Congress had won the mandate in Punjab by bagging 77 seats while the AAP had won in 20 constituencies, becoming the main opposition party in the state. In the recent Chandigarh municipal corporation elections, the AAP stunned the Congress and the BJP, emerging as the single largest party by winning in 14 of the 35 wards. 

The Punjab polls have turned out to be a multi-cornered contest with the entry of new players like Captain Amarinder Singh and some farmer unions floating their own outfits. After quitting the Congress, Captain Singh formed his own party and announced alliance with the BJP and Sukhdev Singh Dhinda-led SAD (Sanyukt). On the other hand, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have formed an alliance for the upcoming polls, calling it a new day in the politics of Punjab. 

The perception of good governance by AAP gives them an edge over other parties, whereas Channi’s approach of being an ‘aam aadmi’ projects him to be a good leader for governance. His way of handling the PM security breach and taking along everyone is considered to be his strength. In yet another advocacy for the Dalits, Channi proposed and got the polling dates shifted to February 20 owing to the Ravidas Jayanti on February 14. With Captain fighting for a prestige issue, in case of a hung House, the possibility of AAP and SAD forming a coalition government cannot be ruled out. 

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