Beyond the News - FACT Analysis

Punjab voted to prevent poaching

Harjap Singh Aujla

Punjab was fed-up with dominance of mafia and it revolted at the hustings. For the past quarter century, a host of mafia’s sprung up in the state. The most powerful being the transport, cable, sand and liquor mafias. They flourished exponentially and the beneficiaries built their empires. The bigwigs of both alternating ruling parties looted the state’s revenue mercilessly turn by turn. Although on paper one of the parties was a religious party and the other was a grand old secular party, which fought for independence, but in reality when it came to looting of the state exchequer, both were identical. Their irresponsible fiscal policies plunged the state into a financial crisis of gigantic proportions that is why many heads rolled after the counting of votes. There also was a fear that one big party had so much wealth at its disposal that they could make a loser out of an actual winner, this fear led to lopsided voting on the day of polling.

Due to repeated mismanagement of state money, The debt burden kept rising and payments, including those for salary billsbecame difficult to make. The revenue, which would have gone to refurbish the state treasury, went into the pockets of the rich and powerful ministers and MLAs, who supported or were a part of the mafia. No course correction was even attempted. As a result we are under a crippling debt of roughly three hundred thousand crores of  rupees. Consequently borrowing is becoming expensive, more loan becomes necessary to pay for the previous loans. Money is drying up for development works. No politician of the alternative ruling parties was willing to put a plug on the reckless spending and borrowing. In order to stay in power, freebees were being offered to the poor and gullible people. Free electricity for the irrigation tubewells has been the worst freebee. As the water-table has been going down each year, the tubewells are getting deeper and the financial burden is rising. From less than one thousand crores in the first year, it has jumped to more than ten thousand crores each year.

A thoroughly disgusted voter with the two alternatives wanted to get rid of both parties. Their alternative was the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had not tasted power yet and as such was considered honest. An untried politician is presumed to be honest. AAP gave tickets to some people with a clean record. An untainted comedian was made the chief ministerial candidate. Many females with impeccable reputation were given tickets and they won.

Then came rumors, born out of past experiences in several states, that one party with deep pockets getting ready to poach winning candidates of less affluent parties to engineer a post election majority. What happened in the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation election was fresh in their minds. The AAP had won more seats than the rulers at the centre, but due to political machinations, the ruling party at the centre was able to elect its mayor. This rang the alarm bells in the electorate. The people made up their mind to give such an overwhelming majority to the new party that no scope will be left for poaching from the winning or the smaller parties. This panic reaction to possible poaching has resulted in a thumping mandate for the AAP in Punjab. A political novice lady candidate humbled two stalwarts in Amritsar East. Good luck to the winners.

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