The Navjot Factor in Punjab Elections
Punjab is gearing for assembly polls. The ruling Akali - BJP alliance faces a strong incumbency factor as it has had a ten year run of the state politics. The media of course favors AAP as the coffers of the Delhi government have been too generous to the media. It continues to highlight the success of AAP in Lok Sabha elections some time ago. But what it does not feel like informing the citizens is that most of those MPs have faded away already. Only Bhagwant Mann remains party's face in Punjab. Of course, relations between AAP and Congress are nice and comfy and that seems to be the way these elections might go. An alliance between the Congress and AAP.
The Akali Dal is financially sound and well organized as well. Whatever allegations of corruption people might hurl, they have tried to push the state forward. The BJP it seems has already decided to grab the post of the biggest loser. Its fate now lies in the border district of Amritsar where the Navjot factor will decide about its very existence in state politics. For long, the leaders of BJP in Delhi has outsourced state politics to the Akalis. The BJP cadre is just for ornamental purposes. In Assembly elections, they just fight a bunch of 20 odd seats. In Lok Sabha elections they just fight 3 seats. That too local cadre is not bothered about, as all Lok Sabha candidates are outsiders. So obviously, Akalis have had the upper hand in the alliance and the BJP local cadre has suffered badly. They all have tried in their own way but the Delhi leadership trusts the Akalis more than their own men.
The situation would go on till BJP is an extinct party in Punjab. But Navjot Singh Sidhu and Navjot Kaur Sidhu, husband and wife have upset the apple cart. They have been extremely outspoken about the party being submissive to the Akali Dal. Before them many party leaders who have spoken were conveniently sidelined. And coincidently that was why they were brought in from Patiala to Amritsar.
In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP tried the same old trick with Sidhu as well. It was a safe seat for Navjot Singh Sidhu as his wife (Navjot Kaur) is a popular MLA and he himself ha built up a popularity amongst people. His approach is independent from the Akalis which the local leaders and cadre liked very much. But the Delhi leadership intervened, Arun Jaitely was airlifted from Delhi to Amritsar, election was totally outsourced to the Akalis and people as it happens at times in democracies pulled the rug. A seat that the BJP could have easily won, was deliberately lost by demoralizing own party men.
Lot of water has flown since then. Amit Shah has taken over the mantle at the party headquarters. But little has changed for the BJP in Punjab. All eyes are now on the Navjot Couple. For all the politics, they have not quit the party. They have in fact become a symbol of the frustrated cadre of the BJP. If they move away or give up, the party's extinction in the Punjab political arena is certain.