News analysis | With Sidhu at the helm before the Punjab Assembly polls, Cong. faces the challenge of keeping the Hindu vote bank
Some political observers, however, believe that attempts by the party’s state chairman to court “panthic” votes could end up losing substantial support from the Hindu vote bank.
After the Congressional High Command “cornered” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to step down from his post and make it clear that the Assembly election scheduled for early next year would be challenged by its detractor and state party chairman, Navjot Singh Sidhu, the way forward for the party as the polls approach is likely to be bumpy.
Even though 78 deputies of the 80 attended on September 18 the meeting of the Legislative Party of the Congress of Punjab (CLP) convened by the All India Congress Committee (AICC), during which a resolution was adopted, authorizing the president of the Congress to choose the new head of the CLP. , Capt Singh’s stance making it clear that he “won’t be hanging up his boots anytime soon” should ring bells within the party even as Mr Sidhu has other challenges ahead of the Assembly ballot .
While challenging the election under Mr. Sidhu would help galvanize the party’s cadres due to its mass appeal and oratory skills, the anti-public nomination factor against the ruling Congress would not be easy. to counter for Mr. Sidhu. Even though Mr Sidhu has pointed the finger at his own government, accusing it of failing to resolve several issues – be it the sacrilege of Bargari, the fight against the drug and transport mafias and other promises unfulfilled election campaign of 2017 – he would be under immense pressure to keep his promises. on the fulfillment of promises before the election in just a few months.
In recent months, Mr. Sidhu has repeatedly attacked the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) led by the “Badal” family, in an attempt to break into the “panthic” (Sikh) vote bank. In Punjab, “panthic” voters have traditionally been associated with Akali Dal, while Hindu voters have traditionally been seen as Congress-inclined, especially under the “moderate” face of Captain Singh at the helm. Some political observers believe, however, that Mr Sidhu’s attempts to woo “panthic” votes could end up losing substantial support from the Hindu vote bank. Moreover, with the breakdown of the SAD alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), there is a good chance that the Hindu voice bank could eventually move to the BJP, which until now had been minimal because the BJP over the years had contested as a “junior partner” in alliance with Akali Dal.
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“Sidhu has targeted the Akali Dal and questioned their credentials as a ‘panthic’ party around religious issues to garner Sikh votes, but he doesn’t realize in this whole episode that Hindu voters could change silently. Captain Amarinder has a moderate image and an acceptable leader among the Hindus in Punjab, but the party has already dismissed him, which will only cause problems, ”said Ashutosh Kumar, professor in the political science department of the Punjab. University of Punjab.
Not only outside, but also inside the party, Mr. Sidhu’s troubles seem far from over. The 79-year-old Captain Singh has made it clear that he will decide his future political course in consultation with his supporters who have supported him for more than five decades. Although the captain may have lost the “numbers game” with his “loyalists” in the group, he could still play spoilers.
Capt Singh has beaten Mr. Sidhu before, targeting him on his “connection with Pakistan” and calling him “anti-national, dangerous, unstable and incompetent”. Opposition parties, including SAD and Aam Aadmi party, have already cornered Mr Sidhu, accusing him of trying to “deceive” the people of Punjab by raising a finger at the Congressional government led by Captain Singh of which he had been a part as Cabinet Minister.