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Karanjot Virk: How AAP Has Failed Punjab, Time & Time Again
"There are some things that Jalandhar voters should keep in mind as polling takes place in the city for the parliamentary by-election."
Karanjot Singh Virk
May 9, 2023 | 4.5 min. read | Opinion
There are some things that Jalandhar voters should keep in mind as polling takes place in the city on May 10, 2023, for the parliamentary by-election.
As an aside, the major parties have ‘borrowed’ candidates from each other for this by-election. The ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) gave the ticket to Sushil Rinku, who was expelled by Congress just the other day. Whereas the BJP announced Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal as their candidate, who left Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) just a few days ago. Congress gave the ticket to the wife of the late Santosh Chaudhary, who died due to a heart attack during Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), who ended up in fifth place in the Sangrur by-election last year, announced its MLA from Banga, Dr. Sukhwinder Kumar Sukhi, as their candidate.
Regardless of how one may vote, those heading to the polls cannot forget how AAP has disappointed Punjab so far. In fact, the controversies have become routine.
Barely months after forming the state government, Health Minister Vijay Singla was caught demanding a 1% commission for tenders. Singla was arrested, but later the issue was brushed under the carpet. Now, Singla attends party meetings and sits next to the Chief Minister (CM) as if nothing happened.
In May 2022, the Bhagwant Mann government publicly cut security to 424 VIPs, going as far as sharing a list of those impacted for public points, exposing their vulnerability. The very next day, the prominent singer Sidhu Moose Wala was murdered, and the perpetrators claimed that the cut in security made their job easier. Parents of the slain singer are appealing to the voters of Jalandhar not to vote for AAP.
Last year in June, the Mann government gave the green light to cut the Mattewara Forest down to set up a textile park. If a large protest had not been held, the forest, one of the few left in Punjab, would have disappeared.
In July, a protest started against a liquor factory polluting water in Zira. The Mann government turned a blind eye to protest, and its Members of Parliament (MPs) defended the business. Meanwhile, claims of locals dying from the environmental impact kept spreading. After 177 days of protest, Bhagwant Mann reversed its decision.
In September, an audio clip of food processing minister Fauja Singh Sarari & his aid went viral. The duo were reportedly heard discussing a plan to extort money from contractors involved in transporting government foodgrains and rice with the help of officials. Sarari had to eventually resign, months after the audio went viral.
There has been an ongoing protest in the Behbal Kalan village of Faridkot regarding police shootings and beadbi. Punjab government’s MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan visited the protest in October and assured the Sikhs that justice would be delivered soon. Months later, neither justice has served, nor the MLA has revisited the morcha.
In December 2022, over 50 houses were reduced to dust in Jalandher’s Latifpura in the name of illegal encroachments. The government did not make any arrangements to provide shelter to the evicted. The families started a protest in the December cold, amongst the rubble of the raze, which is ongoing. The demolition did not just impact the families' lives but also their children's education. If NGOs had not arranged Langar, the residents would have also gone hungry.
Another AAP MLA, Amit Rattan, was arrested over corruption charges. His close aid Rashim Garg was also arrested for accepting a four lakh rupees bribe.
An interview with the dreaded gangster and main suspect behind the killing of Sidhu Moose Wala, Lawrence Bishnoi, was brazenly telecasted by ABP. Bishnoi was said to be held in Bathinda jail, and it is believed that the interview was arranged from the prison, unbeknownst to authorities. The Punjab government did not provide any satisfactory answer as to what exactly happened and how Bishnoi could so boldly conduct interviews while detained on serious charges. The parents of Sidhu Moose Wala were left baffled as well.
On March 18, Punjab police started a crackdown against Sikh activists, including Amritpal Singh, and created havoc by suppressing democratic rights and civil liberties, including shutting down the internet and falsely imposing draconian laws such as the National Security Act against Sikhs, sending some of them to prison in Assam. The measures would draw international condemnation and negative headlines for Punjab worldwide. To make matters worse, CM Mann addressed Punjab in Hindi when giving an update on the issue, and even attacked the Jathedar of the Akal Takht - a new low as even other recent Chief Ministers refrained from degrading the temporal seat of Sikh authority. CM Mann showed that he clearly kneeled before the central government.
In late March, another MLA, Amansher Singh Sherry Kalsi, faced allegations of manipulating the 10+2 examination. It is claimed that someone else was “appearing in the examination for the Batala MLA,” and an inquiry was initiated to probe the matter.
In April, Surinder Kamboj, father of AAP MLA Goldy Kamboj, was arrested for extortion. Surinder Kamboj had demanded a bribe of 10 lakh rupees to save a property dealer facing an allegedly false rape complaint.
In the latest case, Congress MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira has sent a video involving sexual misconduct by an AAP minister to Punjab’s Governor for further investigation. Khaira alleges that the video is too disgraceful to be shared in public.
Controversy has plagued AAP since they came into power, and many egregious decisions have been made against the best interests of Punjab. Bhagwant Mann, once known for his satirical style on social and political issues, was popular among all age groups of Punajbis. However, no one expected that he would become the dummy Chief Minister of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Something for voters in Jalandhar to keep in mind as they head to the polls.
Karanjot Singh Virk hails from British Columbia and writes on Punjab and Sikh issues. You can find him on Twitter at @VirkKaranjot
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