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AAP, SAD & Congress wage Punjab proxy battle from Delhi

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 23 June 2016, 18:45 IST
QUICK PILL
New strategy
  • Parties are engaging in advertisement wars to gain traction in Delhi as well as in Punjab
  • Full-page advertorials are being brought out by AAP, BJP-SAD to tom tom their achievements
The backlash
  • SAD-BJP and Congress attacked AAP for wasting money on the advertisements
  • Arvind Kejriwal was also severely criticised for published his letter to Modi in the advert
More in the story
  • What else has AAP proposed?
  • How are the issues in Delhi affecting Punjab?

With the state assembly polls barely a few months away, a pitched proxy battle for dominating Punjab's political landscape is being fought from the national capital of New Delhi.

Political parties are indulging in acts in Delhi that are bound to have implications in Punjab. These acts are later also being contested in Punjab by the state wings of these very parties.

The latest in the series is the furore caused by Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal.

The letter written by him to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Special Investigative Team (SIT) constituted by the Modi administration to probe cases of 1984 anti Sikh riots was advertised prominently in most of the newspapers in Punjab.

Kejriwal has called the SIT an eyewash thus hitting out at both the BJP leadership at the Centre and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) - BJP combine in Punjab.

Advert wars

This is not the first time that the AAP leadership has launched an advertisement offensive in the state.

Full page advertisements have often been released by the party, particularly prior to Kejriwal's visits, highlighting its achievements in Delhi much to the ire of both the SAD-BJP combine as well as the Congress.

The Akalis have been accusing Kejriwal of trying to mislead the people through these advertisements and the Congress has been calling them a waste of public money.

It was Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh who launched the most vicious attack on Kejriwal for the recent advertisements on 1984 riots SIT.

Also Read: Ensuring Congress' win in Punjab will be Prashant Kishor's toughest assignment

"You are abusing your position and misusing public money to promote and project yourself as someone who actually you are not," he told Kejriwal while asserting this was no less than cheating and fraud with the people of Delhi, whose money was being wasted in advertisements in Punjab with an eye on the elections.

"It is natural for a prime minister to read a letter written to him by a chief minister, so where was the need to waste public money using newspapers with full page advertisements as the medium. Or you fear that the prime minister or for that matter nobody else takes you seriously, hence the need for full page advertisements to over-emphasize your point and grab his attention," Amarinder charged.

Offence is the best defense

The AAP leadership has been defending the advertising campaigns saying that even chief ministers of other states have also been highlighting their achievements.

"Is the 1984 ant Sikh genocide not a relevant issue?" asked senior AAP leader Succha Singh Chhotepur.

Prior to this, it was the move by Kejriwal to promote Punjabi language in government schools in Delhi that was played up in Punjab.

Party leaders Sanjay Singh, Succha Singh Chhotepur and Prof Sadhu Singh said that the Delhi government's decision to ensure Punjabi language teachers in every school in the periphery of Delhi is a moment of pride for the academicians and Punjabi language lovers across the globe. They also hailed the decision to raise the pay scale of Punjabi teachers in Delhi.

Commenting on the attacks from the Congress and Akali Dal on releasing advertisements on this issue, Sanjay Singh said," If government is doing something for the betterment of Punjabi language, why should not people know about it? It is the anti-Punjabi mindset of SAD-BJP and Congress that forces them to oppose AAP."

But these claims have been contested by the Akali leadership in Delhi that has countered the campaign.

The AAP leadership has been defending the advertising campaigns saying that even chief ministers of other states have also been highlighting their achievements.

"Is the 1984 ant Sikh genocide not a relevant issue?" asked senior AAP leader Succha Singh Chhotepur.

Prior to this, it was the move by Kejriwal to promote Punjabi language in government schools in Delhi that was played up in Punjab.

Party leaders Sanjay Singh, Succha Singh Chhotepur and Prof Sadhu Singh said that the Delhi government's decision to ensure Punjabi language teachers in every school in the periphery of Delhi is a moment of pride for the academicians and Punjabi language lovers across the globe. They also hailed the decision to raise the pay scale of Punjabi teachers in Delhi.

Commenting on the attacks from the Congress and Akali Dal on releasing advertisements on this issue, Sanjay Singh said," If government is doing something for the betterment of Punjabi language, why should not people know about it? It is the anti-Punjabi mindset of SAD-BJP and Congress that forces them to oppose AAP."

But these claims have been contested by the Akali leadership in Delhi that has countered the campaign.

Besides an ad on the SIT letter, AAP also advertised their attempts to promote Punjabi in schools

President of Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and senior Akali leader Manjit Singh GK said that it was the pressure from the sustained campaign of the DSGMC that led Kejriwal to take these decisions.

"The DSGMC has been raising the demand for past one year for which the Delhi government has made announcements to recruit one Urdu and one Punjabi teacher each, in all government schools before August, 2016," GK Said.

The DSGMC had also been attacking the Delhi government for introducing business course as a sixth subject in class 9 in place of a regional language, calling it a well designed plan to uproot students from their culture.

More issues

Another issue that has turned out to be contentious in the political battlefield is the tercentenary of martyrdom of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, a Sikh icon revered by both Sikhs and Hindus in Punjab and elsewhere.

Also Read: AAP on a roll in Punjab but don't write off Congress and Akalis

Initially a Hindu ascetic who later converted to Sikhism after coming in contact with Guru Gobind Singh, Banda Bahadur had fought the Mughals and had established his authority in Punjab before he was captured and taken to Delhi where he was assassinated in public view in 1715.

Kejriwal drew first blood by announcing that his government would rename Barapulla flyover in Delhi after the icon.

The Punjab government has drawn up an elaborate programme to celebrate the tercentenary of Banda Bahadur in Punjab as well as Delhi. Modi has also consented to attend the a function to be held in New Delhi in the last week of June.

A plan is afoot by the Akalis to install a 20-feet tall statue of Banda Bahadur at Mehrauli in a park built by DSGMC on 7.5 acre plot.

Wh AAP said a flyover would be named after martyr Banda Bahadur, SAD want a statue constructed

The Akalis and Delhi government are reportedly locked in a war over the issue with the latter saying that the Supreme Court had imposed interim restriction on installation of statues on public places.

But GK has questioned how has Delhi government installed statues of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev in Delhi Vidhan Sabha on 23 March, 2016 ? He said the statue of Banda Bahadur shall be installed at all costs on the pattern of 1984 genocide victims memorial which is in the process of being built near the Parliament and if permission for his statue is revoked, the DSGMC shall look for an alternate site.

Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal has been actively involved in the programmes being held in Delhi.

Not to be left behind was BJP leader Arun Jaitley. Jaitley released a commemorative silver coin to mark the 300th martyrdom day of Sikh military commander Banda Bahadura few days ago.

More such moves are expected from these parties in Delhi that are bound to have an impact on ground in Punjab even as a pitched battle is being waged on hyper-local issues in the state.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

Also Read: Punjab elections: will overconfidence be AAP's undoing?

First published: 23 June 2016, 18:45 IST
 
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