Chandigarh: With Assembly elections just a few months away, the national and regional parties of Punjab were handed a tough opponent on Sunday with the coming together of all splinter groups, smaller regional forums, fronts and political parties. The much-anticipated Mahagathbandhan (or Fourth Front ) — an initiative of sacked Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MP Dr Dharamvir Gandhi and others — was formed in Punjab after a day-long series of deliberations by like-minded groups and political organisations. The Fourth Front, whose name will be announced soon, plans to contest the forthcoming Punjab Assembly elections as a strong regional outfit.
The announcement of the Fourth Front was made by Gandhi at the end of the 'Round Table Conference' in Chandigarh on Sunday. Awaaz-e-Punjab leader Navjot Singh Sidhu was conspicuous by his absence, although his friend and ally Pargat Singh attended the programme. Gandhi pointed out that he had come in his individual capacity and not as an Awaaz-e-Punjab representative.
While addressing a press conference later, Gandhi said that representatives of the Democratic Swaraj Party, Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Party, Amritsar Voluntary Group, Apna Party Group and several other smaller political fora and groups from Punjab agreed on the formation of a strong regional front to tackle the burning issues including the sand, land and drug mafia, unemployment, health issues, deteriorating law and order problems etc.
Gandhi said the front has the full support of Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Pargat Singh too. Chhotepur could not attend the 'Round Table Conference', but sent his representative Hardeep Singh Kingra. Gandhi said the stand of Sidhu (and consequently, that of Awaaz-e-Punjab) was not clear on whether or not he would join the Fourth Front. An invitation had been sent to him, but he did not come, said Gandhi.
He added that leaders from all the groups and political organisations agreed on the formation of a strong regional outfit to take on the might of the national parties as well as the ruling regional party: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The Fourth Front will work for the welfare of Punjab and Punjabiat, said Gandhi. On the issue of front leader Chhotepur planning to form a party next month, Gandhi said the party will be a part of the Fourth Front.
At the 'Round Table Conference', three issues were chalked out, which will be the guiding principles of the Fourth Front.
"First, we want a genuinely democratic federal India. Second, we want to democraticise Punjab, where there will be no space for criminalisation and politicisation. It will truly be people’s rule in the state. Third, we want to democratise Punjabi society and remove all drawbacks therein. We want to create a casteless society and change the patriarchial mindset of the people," Gandhi elaborated.
Gandhi regretted the fact that all the parties in Punjab including SAD, BJP, Congress and AAP have only indulged in looting and plundering of the state without giving a single thought to the issues and problems of the people. He said the need of the hour is to have a strong regional outfit which works for the welfare of the people and ends the mafia raj in the once flourishing state of Punjab.
He went on to claim that successive Central governments have always done an injustice to Punjab. "There is no justified riparian law for the state. The water of Punjab has to be given to Rajasthan at the state’s own cost of Rs 13 lakh crore. The ground water level in Punjab has gone down alarmingly, but no one cares. Dark zones in the state have gone up to four and the lands of Punjab are turning fallow. Punjab doesn’t have a capital of its own. All parties have only exploited Punjab. All this must end," warned Gandhi.