Dalit Chief Minister For Punjab – Dalit Empowerment Or Poll Gimmick

The appointment of Charanjit Singh Channi as the new Chief Minister of Punjab has temporarily halted the political slugfest going on between Captain Amarinder Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu, the two main protagonists of the soap opera played out in full media and public glare in the political theatre of Punjab under over the last two months.

Don't need 1000 cops, 200 cars: Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi seeks to  reduce security cover - India News

The party’s high command may feel elated at their momentary victory without realizing that the unceremonious removal of Captain Amarinder Singh may ultimately prove to be a big fiasco for the Congress party. The shabby handling of the entire episode only exposes the ineptitude of the so-called high command of the party that has been without leadership for almost two years now after Rahul Gandhi resigned as party president in 2019.

The perception it has created among the electorate is that they are mere novices as far as their understanding of the machinations and hoi polloi of Indian politics.

chief minister

What befuddles the commentariat is that the Congress leadership has actually shot itself in the foot but is projecting this as a victory and taking credit for it. Replacing a democratically elected popular leader with a puppet who belongs to the Dalit community six months before the election with an eye on the votes of that caste which has a sizable presence in the state as well as in the rest of the country smacks of nothing but gross vote bank and appeasement politics.

The Congress would like to sell this to the Dalit population in the state as well as Dalits in the country as their concern and commitment towards their upliftment. It would be nothing short of political naivety to expect the Dalits to bite the bait and vote en masse for the party in this day and age when Dalits clearly realize this is nothing more than tokenism in the name of Dalit empowerment.

Charanjit Singh takes oath as Punjab Chief Minister; Sidhu attends | India  News – India TV

Politically, this looks like a smart move, but in effect, it is very similar to the Shah Banoo fiasco, which boomeranged on Congress as it led to the consolidation of the Hindu vote against Congress.

Today, Dalits are better educated and financially empowered and cannot be taken for a ride so easily. Dalits form 33% of Punjab’s population, which decides who wins the assembly elections scheduled to take place early next year. But this may lead to the consolidation of the Jat Sikh vote, which forms the majority of Punjab, against the Congress. They might perceive this as an insult to their community as Captain Amarinder Singh hails from their community.

If this happens, Congress will descend to a new nadir in its self-propelled march towards political extinction. Punjab is one of the few major states where Congress still has a considerable presence at the ground level. Losing it to political chicanery will be nothing short of political harakiri. Congress needs to realize that it can’t fool all the people all the time.

Charanjit Singh Channi takes oath as Punjab Chief Minister, two deputies  sworn in | Cities News,The Indian Express

The lack of finesse in handling the issue reflects poorly on the leadership. It will further erode their credibility in the electorate’s eyes and adversely affect their electoral prospects not just in the assembly but also in the national elections. This was an opportunity to show the country how it is different from the ruling BJP, but the impression that has been created is that Congress has not given up its old ways of winning elections by securing vote banks during the election.

This does not augur well for a party whose political obituary has been written so often that it has become cliched to say that Congress is facing an existential crisis. Congress needs to change its approach to electoral politics and endorse a policy-oriented approach to governance. Punjab faces many issues, including severe drug addiction among its youth, which has reached pandemic proportions over the last decade.

Congress does not offer any solution on this issue. Neither does Congress have any plan of action on addressing the depleting water table in Punjab because of its excessive reliance on paddy cultivation. This begs the question of why should the people of Punjab vote for it at all. Mere theatrics will not work anymore. People require concrete policies.

Congress can take solace from the fact that the other two contenders in the election, namely Shiromani Akali Dal and Aam Aadmi Party, are equally in the woods when it comes to these issues. So, it boils down to being one-eyed among the blind. God save Punjab.

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