A lot of rather strange developments have surfaced in the past few weeks in Punjab that leave one puzzled.
For one, the ground seems to be shifting rather swiftly, and in a way that does not augur well, for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) overall.
Some keen political observers have noted that AAP Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has not received any retweets or mentions from Punjab’s Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann since more than a few days.
That led to speculations whether all was well between the two. However, there is more to what is going in Punjab that makes this seem the tip of the iceberg in more than one way.
If one noticed the whole saga of Amritpal Singh Sandhu’s high profile chase and round up attempt (through which he slipped out rather ignominiously), one would have noticed the rather late reaction of the AAP’s media and IT cells.
in the first reaction by Atishi Marlena, who tried appropriating the Singh is King title, seemed to reflect that the Delhi government and the party were not kept in loop on this step.
The studied silence of Arvind Kejriwal, already facing significantly uncomfortable questions on ‘funding and support’ from Khalistani elements abroad, was also conspicuous.
What is also to be noted is how the party has been muted on Khalistani appeals to who live abroad, which otherwise has drawn widespread condemnation even from the most hardline quarters.
Another reason why extremists and Kejriwal would be miffed alike with Mann would be his rather public spat with the Akal Takht Jathedar and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on the question of release of detainees from the roundup.
While the SGPC and Jathedar ji have tried rallying the panth around the cause, Mann in a rare display of authority, rebuffed such appeals.
Though the release of most detainees by the Punjab Police (different from the ones detained in Dibrugarh, Assam) was passed off as a routine affair and outreach to the Takht, the very fact that he rather publicly by calling out the ‘control’ of the Badals on the position of Jathedars for their ‘personal benefit’ and the lack of interest from the Jathedar to push for solving cases relating to sacrilege or disappearance of saroops of Guru Granth Sahib, was not lost on anyone.
Even earlier, by of guru golak, Bhagwant Mann had surprised many observers, though it was not surprising because even many panth extremists have alleged misuse of the chadhava by SGPC members in the past.
Another point of schism has been the recent apparent demotion of Aman Arora. Following the interview fiasco surrounding gangster Lawrence Bishnoi and the gaffe by Aman Arora, it was noted that Arora was divested of two key portfolios by CM Mann.
Did it happen with the full knowledge of the Delhi high command?
This remains unclear, but the timing was also interesting, given how it took place two days before police crackdown on Sandhu.
Even Raghav Chadha, who was seen as part of the coterie deciding on all matters Punjab, was curiously , being in news more for nuptial affairs than for his role in Punjab.
While the matter has been shown as one having the blessings of Arvind Kejriwal, things don’t add up. The silence of those who take credit for even cleaning a drain leaves many tongues wagging.
Meanwhile, Punjab’s political arena went from strange to stranger, as Navjot Singh Sidhu was after one year of rigorous imprisonment.
Amid the rumours of him rejoining Bharatiya Janata Party floating in the state, Sidhu chose to bash the Central government by claiming that the government was behaving like a dictatorship. “Dictatorship in this country is bad. Ambedkar’s idea of united India is being destroyed. Wherever Hindutva idea doesn’t work and where minority is ruling, the centre indulges in divisive politics,” S.
Sidhu also chose to use the rather high-profile event to pose as the leader of Opposition in the state. The manner in which he criticised the Mann government was rather interesting to note.
Raising the issues of Border Security Force (BSF) “standing 30kms inside Punjab”, delays in justice in Bargari issue and the absence of one lakh jobs promised by AAP, Sidhu seemed unrelenting in criticising his ‘younger brother’, chief minister Mann.
What was not missed by anyone though was the absence of senior leaders, be it in-person or in spirit, when it came to Sidhu’s release.
Clearly, this continues to be reflective of the manner in which Sidhu is seen as ‘politically untouchable’ within the Congress.
With Sidhu being credited for targeting the previous Congress government in the state and its consequence of creating a perception of a weak government, the anger clearly has not subsided.
Clearly, the only consensus in the Congress party is on keeping Sidhu at bay.
Will the AAP see a split?
Will Sidhu be able to corner the opposition space that seems vacant right now?
There are several developments in the state that make its political ground slippery. Things are surely going to be rather tumultuous over the next few weeks, and deserve a dekko.
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