Beyond the News - FACT Analysis

A Principled Politician retires and no one notices

         Harjap Aujla
Punjab Assembly elections are due in February of 2022. All the ambitious persons, irrespective of being deserving or undeserving, are trying to get nominations from one party or the other. Ideologies and principles are getting blurred. Some parties are poaching candidates from the other parties. Nominations are on sale, the highest bidder, or the one with the brightest prospects to win becomes the darling of the political outfits. Switching parties has become a musical chairs game. Some aspirants after switching sides have returned to their parent parties.

In this ever swelling crowd of opportunists and turncoats, Kanwar Sandhu has been a highly respected gem of journalismof North Western India. He wrote for a large number of frontline newspapers including “The Tribune”, “India Today”, “The Indian Express”and “Hindustan Times”. He worked at the helm in all these newspapers and earned a lot of name and fame for his fiercely independent, brilliant and righteous writings. Five years ago he found some merit in joining the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and successfully contested from Kharar constituency to become an MLA after defeating millionaires. He was one of the lowest spenders to score a spectacular success. But nearly five years later, he saw the ugly face of politics unfolding in front of his eyes. Corrupt politicians were flourishing and the few honest ones were suffering.

He was suspended by his party, because he did not want to compromise with his principles. Since the days of the SAD (B) in power, an undemocratic centre of power was created in the form of “Halqa Incharge. This individual is either the ruling party’s elected representative in the state assembly or its defeated candidate. The bureaucratic head of the district known as the “Deputy Commissioner” and the police chief called the “Senior Superintendent of Police” are appointed with his consent. Even the heads of police stations in his constituency known as the “Station House Officers” are appointed with his permission and all these officers toe the line of the HalqaIncharge. The MLA elected from the opposition has no say in the administration of his constituency. There is no budgetary allocated entitlement for the MLA to serve the most urgent needs of his constituency, but the ruling party MLA invariably gets the sympathetic ear of the state’s finance minister and the chief minister and money is spent on his recommendations. The opposition MLA is a silent spectator of this unfair undemocratic behavior.

Kanwar Sandhu has silently suffered these indignities for more than four and a half years. He has fundamental differences with the ruling party at the centre. He has witnessed rampant corruption and mafia calling the shots all around during his nearly five years as a member of Punjab State Assembly. He does not want to go back to his own party, which treated him most shabilly and he does not see merit in joining any other party in the state. Being a man of strong scruples, he has finally decided in favor of retirement from electoral politics.

The pre-election model code of conduct has not been promulgated yet, the ruling party can spend money at will to appease the voters. Now all the other parties too are engaged in a sprint of making promises of impossible freebees to the gullible voters. The state treasury is empty and the cumulative debt is all time high exceeding three hundred thousand crores of rupees. Now the ruling party at the centre, with deep pockets,has stepped in and started poaching the most vulnerable politicians of the other parties. No party in the election arena is proposing any harsh measures to refurbish the empty treasury. Punjabis have been hooked to false promises made by innocent looking but cunning politicians, but just like in the past, this time too once again they are falling in the trap of the unscrupulous politicians who are making false promises.

Kanwar Sandhu does not want to be a run of the mill politicianto fall in line with the blighters. He stood by his lofty principles in journalism I don’t blame him, he is doing the right thing once again and I support his decision not to contest the election, when most of the run of the mill politicians are switching sides to get an opportunity to contest the election. There still are principled people in this world, who can stand against the tide and hold their own.