Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has once again put his inimitable seal on the Lok Sabha elections 2019. His powerful and well-calculated strategy whether it was the Prime Minister Narendra Modi or his arch-rival Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Chief Minister decimated them both.
The ace strategist, whose next plan is difficult to predict by even his party leaders, led from the front right from the time the candidates started filing the nomination papers till the time he had covered all the constituencies. The fact that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi addressed three rallies in Punjab clearly reflected the importance Punjab played in the resultant overall scenario on May 23 when the counting will be held.
Congress in Punjab has always played defensive role over the sensitive Operation Bluestar and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, but this time round the party has played completely on the front foot by using religion as its brahmastara. Taking advantage of the heated up sacrilege issue, Capt Amarinder has actually outsmarted his arch rivals, the Badals at the most opportune time and taken the bull by its horns in the hitherto powerful Akali area – the panthic turf.
Announcing a memorial for the protesters in a sacrilege rally killed during the police firing in Bargari and Behbal Kalan just a day before Rahul Gandhi came to Faridkot parliamentary constituency (under which the two fall) has proved to be the last nail in Akali Dal’s coffin. The memorial will be a testimony against the Badals for all times to come, as people have been blaming them for their failure to prevent the sacrilege and the killing of the protestors.
This is not the first time that Capt Amarinder Singh has done things his way. First, he constituted a commission headed by Justice Ranjit Singh on the Bargari case. This was followed by the setting up of a Special Investigation Team to probe the incidents of firing, which led to death of two protestors. And now the memorial to the martyrs just a few days before Punjab goes to polls on May 19.
Religion was the only card that the Badals used every election. But this time, Capt Amarinder has taken it away by using the same to the benefit of Congress. The entire Congress campaign in Punjab was planned around Bargari, especially in the two parliamentary constituencies of Faridkot and Bathinda.
The Badals’ stakes are highest both in Bathinda and Faridkot. It’s from Bathinda that Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the wife of the Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, is aiming a hattrick. But, she has a tough challenger in Raja Warring, a former Indian Youth Congress president and now the Gidderbaha legislator.
More than Faridkot parliamentary constituency, where Bargari falls, it is Bathinda where people are venting more anger. This is because a Badal family member is contesting from here as compared to Faridkot. The Akalis have already faced the wrath in 2017 when they were virtually swept off the Malwa region.
With Sukhbir Badal contesting from a ‘safer’ neighbouring Ferozepur and Harsimrat from Bathinda, this is the last-ditch effort of the Badals to redeem their lost prestige within the party as well as state political scene.
Much against the perception created among political circles that Capt Amarinder was being soft on the Badals, he has really made these two parliamentary constituencies a hotbed of politics for the about-to-be concluded Lok Sabha elections. His political campaign has made Badals’ life difficult in the Malwa region, more specifically in Ferozepur and Bathinda.
May 19 is going to be the last straw on the camel’s back for Akali Dal and in effect the BJP too.