Punjab Elections: Party time
CHANDIGARH: It may still be a good five months to the crucial assembly elections but it’s raining ‘political parties’ in Punjab.
The assembly elections were clearly headed for a triangular contest with the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party in the state and new challenger pitted against traditional political rivals – the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance, the opposition.
But events of the past fortnight have resulted in an unexpected churn — a fourth front has been launched, and a fifth could be in the offing.
Firstly, Navjot Singh Sidhu cricketer turned comedian turned politician, proved false all rumours about joining a party and floated a new political outfit — ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ (Voice of Punjab).
Former Indian hockey team captain and Olympian Pargat Singh, who is a sitting Akali Dal legislator, and two independent legislators from Ludhiana, Simarjit Bains and Balwinder Bains.
Interestingly, even as they announced the new party, both Sidhu and Pargat continue to have one foot firmly in their respective parties. While Sidhu, who quit as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha in July, is still a member of the BJP, Pargat remains a part of the Akali Dal.
The rancour within the AAP and other groups is being keenly watched by the Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress. Will the actions of the AAP leaders, which some describe as self-goals, result in the new party in Punjab losing the political traction it seemed to have gained over the past few months? An answer is awaited.