Punjab’s Epic Battle of Ballot Boxes


(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)

People (Voters) of Punjab are facing an extraordinary incredible situation in the “Battle of Ballot Boxes” in the face of wild statements/claims/allegations leveled against each other by rival political leaders.

People truly are caught at the cross roads. Whom to vote and elect to represent and rule them for the next 5 years?

People are caught between the proverbial saying “between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”. All political parties and leaders are the same; promise the “Moon” during the campaign; but fail to deliver.

Ipso facto, Punjab by its geo strategic significance is unique to include: border state; granary of the country; social divide; recruiting ground  of security  forces; gateway to J & K; and so on.

Viewed in the above strategic significance, political stability is an imperative. Voters must opt for a decisive verdict; but not a fractured verdict. They must throw out the pretenders lock stock and barrel.

In retrospect, political instability due to fractured verdict in the state of UP may be manageable; but not in Punjab due to its strategic fallout what with the Sikh and Hindu social harmony at stake.

Three options are open to people: SAD-BJP alliance; Congress Party; and the Aam
Admi Party (AAP).

Given the performance of the AAP in Delhi in their present Avatar, the AAP would only be involved in a running feud with Modi and the NDA government to cover up for their failures.  Surely one cannot expect ‘financial bonanza’ from Modi-led NDA to AAP rule Punjab until 2019!

Should people opt for a fractured verdict, a replay of the theatre of the absurd or repeat of the first AAP rule with outside support from the Congress Party in Delhi may become a reality with the State plunging into political instability.  What would be its fallout? Stalling of “Good Governance”, growth and development will be real.

More importantly, it would also provide impetus for resurgence of “Khalistani” forces aided abetted by Pakistan and even from other countries like Canada and the UK.

Thus, the choice before the people is simple – either the SAD-BJP alliance or the Congress Party.

People must deliberately compare the performance of the Congress Party and SAD-BJP alliance dating back to the “Bhindernwale” phenomenon and the “Khalistani” separatist movement that resulted in the destruction of the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star.

Who was responsible and accountable for plunging Punjab into mayhem? History abundantly blames the Congress Party led by Indira Ghandy and Zail Singh for perpetrating the most heinous policies. Having witnessed the “Pratap Chowk” incident as a spectator, I cannot help but sharing experience.

Of course, Badal’s have not also cornered themselves with glory over the twin issues of corruption and the “Drug Menace”.

Let me also highlight that having commanded a battalion with operational responsibility astride the GT Road to Lahore, almost all border villages hosted smugglers what with the Congress Party in power. The common saying even in those days was simple: All MLAs representing constituencies from Pathankot in the North to Fazilka in the South were aided financially by the “Smuggler Dons” – virtually in their pay roasters.

That is why I reiterate that the voters of Punjab are caught between “the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea”. People should not expect “angels to emerge out of political leaders” in today’s ‘no holds barred’ political scenario.

The best voters can do in such an unprecedented murky political scenario is opt for a “known Devil’ than an “Unknown Devil”.

As a spectator watching the development of Amritsar City where I got married in 1972, all I can say is what I see of the developments around the Golden Temple are quite unimaginable. Hardly any other religious place – Temples, Mosques or Churches – can lay claims to higher standards of beauty.

My plea to the voters of Punjab as an outsider is simple. Vote for political stability; but not for political instability. Do not plunge Punjab into political mayhem. Let not Pakistan from across the border exploit political instability to destabilize the State.