Sandeep Singh: Early AAP Decisions Risk Dampening High Expectations
From large trivial expenditures to unnecessary symbolism, AAP appears to be creating controversies for itself in Punjab
March 17, 2022 | 2.5 min. read | Opinion
After the first few days of the new AAP government, some Punjabis are beginning to wonder if “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”
From large trivial expenditures to unnecessary symbolism, AAP appears to be creating controversies for itself.
Its spending spree in the wake of its victory is raising eyebrows, considering it is contrary to its self-professed brand of doing politics differently.
“Ek mauka Kejriwal nu” was a slogan used by AAP during the elections, and Punjabis gravitated to that slogan as they grew tired of traditional parties. However, AAP should be careful not to undermine its position by repeating similar behaviours, like spending money on unnecessary events and propaganda, that led to disillusionment with Congress and Akalis.
There are a handful of decisions since March 10, 2022, that raise questions.
First was the Kejriwal and Bhagwant Mann victory roadshow in Amritsar this past Sunday. The joyride cost 61 lakh rupees, and also inconvenienced transit passengers as the government used state buses to ferry supporters to participate in the partisan show. According to reports, transit users were stranded at bus stands for hours, as AAP flags, in some places, fluttered off buses.
Second is AAP’s politics of symbolism. Mann, for example, declared that he would not be taking oath at the Raj Bhavan in Chandigarh, as is the norm. Instead, he took his oath at Khatkarh Kalan, the village where Bhagat Singh was born. The symbolism will cost at least an extra two crore rupees, as opposed to a few lakhs if done in Punjab’s capital.
Thirdly, while the government has paid to clear 150 acres worth of crops to make way for the rally, parking, and helipads, residents are beginning to question how serious the party is about the humbleness it likes to claim as the common people’s party.
Fourth, the Punjab government has bought advertising spots on various TV channels to run from March 14 to 16. The 85 lakh rupees expenditure aligns around the same days Mann was sworn in as CM.
This brings us to the final, and fifth, concern. Traditional parties were often criticized for placing unnecessary ads in newspapers, such as former CM Charanjit Channi. However, now CM-designate Mann will also have placed ads in numerous papers. Including Hindi ads in English papers, as opposed to Punjabi, which concerns some about AAP’s Delhi-orientated Hindi imposition in Punjab. A common suspicion Punjabis have had with AAP.
For a party that portrays itself as one for the common man, and one that will disrupt the status quo, expectations are rightfully high, and sooner or later voters may feel they were sold false goods.
Sandeep Singh hails from Machhiwara, Punjab. As an independent journalist, he has worked with many prominent Indian news organizations. Sandeep has been following the farmer’s protest in Punjab since its onset and traveled with them to Delhi. He spends most of his time at the Singhu border protest site. You can follow Sandeep on Twitter @Punyaab
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