The two-month long Assembly elections in five states, marked by frequent name-calling, ended on Wednesday, with all eyes on the 11 March results that will be seen not only as a virtual referendum on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity after demonetisation but also Aam Aadmi Party's relevance in two states.
In Punjab, 77.4 percent polling was witnessed on 4 February. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP alliance is battling anti-incumbency while Amarinder Singh is leading the Congress bid to return to power after ten years in the 117-member state Assembly. AAP has made its maiden foray in the assembly elections, seeking to play a killjoy for the two major contenders for power.
There were a total of 1,145 candidates in the fray, with all the top-three contenders Congress, SAD-BJP alliance as well as AAP fielding 117 candidates. Also in the fray in Punjab are Communisty Party of India — Marxist (CPM), Communist Party of India — Marxist Liberation (CPI-ML), Aapna Punjab Party (APP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Punjab Front, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Punjab United (PU), Akali Dal (AD), Apna Punjab (AP), Jai Jawan Jai Kisan Party (JJJKP), Swabhiman Party (SP) and Janta Dal United (JDU).
According to Firstpost's Sandipan Sharma, the Punjab election is all about "voting out the SAD-BJP government. Every voter is reacting to just three issues — drugs, doles and dhakka (hegemony and injustice of Badals and their cronies) politics. Voters want change and the exit of Badals".
The menace of drugs in Punjab is arguably the most important issue in the state which is unique to Punjab. An Aiims study had concluded that there were 837 opioid-dependents per 100,000 people in Punjab, or 0.84 percent of the state’s 28 million population. This alone is more than three times as much as the corresponding all-India figure for all types of drug dependents, based on a Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment estimate of three million drug dependents nationwide, which is 250 per 100,000, or 0.25 percent of the Indian population.
This fact alone shows the extent of the drug abuse problem in Punjab, and the extent to which Sukhbir Singh Badal had distorted the facts. Just the number of opioid-dependents in Punjab was estimated to be over three times the number for all types of drugs in the country.
There were a lot of political twists and turns right before the Punjab polls too. For example, there was a lot of outrage over Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia's remark asking people to vote as if they were voting for Kejriwal. Sisodia's remarks created a political storm as politicians from other parties tried convincing people that this actually meant that Kejriwal was going to be the chief ministerial candidate of AAP for Punjab and that Kejriwal was going to relinquish his role as Delhi chief minister.
One of the most shocking statements came from Navjot Singh Sidhu, who had left the BJP for the Congress a few months back. During a Congress press conference, the flamboyant Sidhu began the presser by claiming, "I'm a born Congressman. My identity, from birth, is that of a Congressman. I owe my existence to Congress."
And of course, who can forget the moment when Amarinder Singh announced that Congress would launch a department called 'Guardians of Governance' if it came to power in the state?
Published Date: Mar 09, 2017 06:31 pm | Updated Date: Mar 09, 2017 06:33 pm