Surprisingly Self-Harming Decisions By AAP In Punjab And Congress In Haryana Put Politics Of Both States In A Flux

by Rohit Pathania - Jul 13, 2022 05:41 PM +05:30 IST
Surprisingly Self-Harming Decisions By AAP In Punjab And Congress In Haryana Put Politics Of Both States In A FluxRaghav Chadha and Kuldeep Bishnoi.
Snapshot
  • The politics of Haryana and Punjab is currently in a flux, with the recent turn of events setting the stage for interesting times to come.

Recent developments on the political front in Punjab and Haryana have attracted people’s attention. Be it the caste dynamic or the super-chief minister like status, there are several questions, and eyebrows have been raised at the turn of events in the past few weeks.

Haryana — Kuldeep Bishnoi Joining BJP?

The Congress in Haryana clearly does not believe that any challengers to Bhupinder Singh Hooda should survive in the party. Its studied silence on the meeting of expelled leader Kuldeep Bishnoi with the top brass of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has definitely set the tone of the party’s future politics in the state to an extent.

In the previous assembly elections, the BJP had managed to secure power despite an undercurrent going against it. Bishnoi is viewed as an asset for the party in Haryana and Rajasthan, another state with a sizable Bishnoi community population.

Bishnoi has not really been in the good books of Deepender Singh Hooda because of his past protests against his dictatorial style. His father, former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal, and he had formed the Haryana Janhit Congress that had even contested elections with the BJP in 2014. Later, he had parted ways in a bid to remain relevant, and rejoined the Congress. This latest foray, however, would be possible only if his terms are accepted, which could include a share in the power within the state.

However, more than the BJP, it is a question of what Congress truly wants to achieve in Haryana. Having sidelined all prominent non-Jat faces in the state ranging from Bishnoi to Kumari Selja, it would be difficult for the party to simply rally on the supposed Jat vote bank alone in the next assembly elections.

A question mark on the Congress’ functioning was already raised at the time when Kuldeep Bishnoi was expelled for cross-voting in the Rajya Sabha elections, leading to Ajay Maken’s defeat.

Instead of trying to understand that many in the state unit were not happy with Maken’s candidature over options from within the state unit, the party has chosen to crack down on ‘indiscipline’, as it did in Punjab.

Punjab — The Case Of A Super-CM?

Raghav Chadha’s appointment to an advisory committee to the Chief Minister of Punjab has confirmed for the detractors what they had already been claiming — that Raghav Chadha is now the de-facto Chief Minister of Punjab.

The opposition has already been taunting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government, claiming it is a government with its remote control in Delhi. What is extremely hilarious is the fact that Chadha’s Punjabi roots are now being discovered to justify his appointment, including his family history of having moved from Jalandhar to Delhi. What it fails to hide is the fact that Chadha has been the most trusted confidante of Arvind Kejriwal, literally being his eyes and ears in Delhi and now in Punjab.

The move’s unpopularity can be gauged by the fact that within hours, petitioner-advocate Jagmohan Singh Bhatti challenged the decision in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Challenging the appointment on more than 20 counts, Bhatti has contended that it was illegal, arbitrary and in exercise of “non est” or non-existent laws of the state and central governments.

The move definitely is reminiscent of the National Advisory Council (NAC) that the erstwhile Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had set up to make Sonia Gandhi the ‘Super-PM’ of India, with many files ‘going through’ her office. Of course, the committee’s constitutional validity, like NAC, will always be under a cloud.

More importantly, it raises questions on the status of Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann. This would further alienate the voter base that had backed the AAP to register its ‘revolt’ against Delhi. Signs of the rapid erosion of the support for AAP had already been seen with the defeat in the Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll that saw Simranjit Singh Mann grab the seat.

Furthermore, on various governance issues, the party’s tall promises are being ridiculed. The budget session, for example, showed just how limited the state government’s capacity to solve the problem is.

That Mann does not have support within the party could be seen with the silence of the IT cell of AAP on Mann’s bizarre request for land for Punjab Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh. The Mattewara Industrial Park is turning out to be another snake pit for the government, as it has become another rallying point for the various groups to come together once again and ‘defend’ the forest.

North-west India’s politics is currently in a flux, with the recent turn of events setting the stage for interesting times to come.

Also read: Congress' Organisational Reshuffle In Haryana, Himachal And Punjab: Fresh Moves, Old Ideas

Rohit Pathania works in the space of renewable energy and environment. Other interests include politics and the economy.
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