September 26, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether Amarinder Singh’s partnership with BJP will yield the desired outcomes. We also look at the first sign language centre in Punjab, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Amarinder Singh & BJP – Will it be a fruitful partnership?
A few months is a long time in politics. Fortunes of parties, political leaders, and alliances can be made or broken during that time. Any good alliance is built on a strong foundation of trust and some common goals. In India, political alliances can sometimes seem fleeting, unyielding, or a gimmick.
The political landscape in Punjab has changed quite a bit over the past six months. The AAP is now in charge. Amarinder Singh, formerly with Congress, is now with the BJP. Will this unlikely alliance bear any fruit? Or are we underestimating their combined powers?
Let’s go back almost a year. As the state geared up for elections the following March, Congress was trying to keep itself together. This goes back to 2019, when several members questioned the party’s strategy in the state. Things took a turn when Sonia Gandhi appointed Navjot Singh Sidhu as head of the Punjab Congress in 2021, much to the dismay of some party leaders. One of those leaders was Amarinder Singh.
This began the rift between Singh and Sidhu. However, Singh had his own set of problems. In August 2021, at least 32 MLAs openly revolted against him and questioned his ability to govern. Meanwhile, Sidhu felt he wasn’t given the freedom to make decisions. The party was in disarray. Despite their best efforts, the party couldn’t keep Singh. He resigned and didn’t mince words about Sidhu on his way out, calling him “an acolyte of the Pakistani deep state.”
Going into the elections this March, Congress was on the back foot. They barely had a cohesive unit in the state. The BJP and AAP were circling. Also in the wings was Singh’s new party, the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC), which he formed, shortly after he left Congress. Once the smoke had cleared, the AAP came out on top. It won 92 of the 117 seats. Singh lost the Patiala seat by more than 19,000 votes.
After months of speculation on what Singh’s next move will be, he finally decided to merge his party, the PLC, with the BJP. At the ceremony formally announcing the move, he said it was time to do something for the country. He took shots at his former party and said the BJP is the one that’s doing something for the country.
One BJP leader pointed out that Punjab was a border state, and the party and Singh saw eye-to-eye on keeping the border secure. Before the announcement, Singh met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, which only fuelled speculation of an imminent move. Now that it’s done, what’s next? Is this a formidable partnership? Can it dethrone the AAP and continue to keep Congress at bay?
VIEW: It’s a win-win
If there’s one thing Amarinder Singh brings to the table for the BJP in the state, it’s experience. He’s been the Chief Minister twice. The BJP’s intentions for the state are clear – go all out. The party now has a high-profile Sikh face among its ranks. In Punjab, that could be a good thing.
There’s also the issue of ideology. Some in the BJP believe Singh’s rhetoric on national security align with theirs. It’s more nationalistic than what Congress usually says, according to some. He has repeatedly raised concerns about Pakistan sending arms and drugs into the state. He was among a few in the opposition who supported Modi during the surgical strikes in 2016 and 2019. This could resonate with the BJP’s core constituency, the Hindu community.
The timing for the BJP could be good. It’s facing criticism for its failed farm laws and the controversial Agniveer policy. Singh could provide some cover on these two fronts. He was a soldier, after all. The BJP wants to control the narrative among Sikhs in the state, particularly the farmers. There’s also personal motivation. Singh will want to get back on top. Perhaps the BJP provides him with that chance.
COUNTERVIEW: It’s more complicated than that
There’s some ammo the opposition can use against Singh and his past. In 1984, he left Congress after Operation Bluestar and joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). However, he did keep some ties with Khalistani extremists even after he rejoined Congress. With this in mind, his Khalsa Dewan Gurdwara visit to Vancouver and his speech with the “Khalistan Zindabad” background raised eyebrows.
Whatever experience Singh had in the past, whatever edge he did have, he no longer does. When he returned as Chief Minister in 2017, the sentiment was that he wasn’t the type of leader he was a decade before. After he first became Chief Minister in 2002, he was seen as effective against the Badals. He also unilaterally terminated water-sharing agreements with neighbouring states, seen as a popular move to save Punjab’s waters.
Arguably the most obvious issue here is that voters rejected him and his party. It’s unclear why the BJP would want such a person. It’s not necessarily a case of old wine in a new bottle. It probably speaks to the questionable strategy the BJP has for Punjab. It could just be a way for Singh, who isn’t exactly young, to give himself a proper exit from the political arena after doing battle for decades. That’s of no particular use to the BJP.
- Revolt against Captain Amarinder Singh: A timeline – Times of India
- ‘Acolyte of Pak deep state’: Amarinder Singh quits Congress, targets Sidhu – Hindustan Times
- Punjab election: AAP tally biggest ever in the state – Hindustan Times
- In AAP wave, two-time Punjab CM Amarinder Singh loses Patiala by massive margin – Mint
- Amarinder Singh joins BJP, says ‘time to do something for the country’ – Zee News
- New team for Captain: What Amarinder Singh joining BJP can mean for him, the party – The Indian Express
- The Maharaja’s gambit: Capt Amarinder Singh to join BJP – Who gains more? – Times Now
- Amarinder is BJP’s mascot in Punjab – The Sunday Guardian
- Captain Amarinder Singh’s Entry Into The BJP — Predictable But Problematic – Swarajya
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) The partnership between Amarinder Singh and BJP will be fruitful.
b) The partnership between Amarinder Singh and BJP won’t work out.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Parallels Between CPI(M)’s Jyoti Basu And BJP’s Narendra Modi Are Cause For Alarm
For the Left:
Can Congress Fight BJP By Singing A Song Of Love?
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
First sign language centre in Patiala (Punjab) – In an attempt to empower physically-challenged persons, the Punjab government under Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann will open the State’s first centre for teaching sign language. This will be a step forward in providing adequate opportunities to people with hearing impairments.
Why it matters: The President of Patiala Association of Deaf, Jagdeep Singh, iterated that although these people cannot speak or hear, they can contribute to society immensely given a proper environment where they can be understood and thereby live up to their full potential.
President will lay foundation of Digital Museum (Tripura) – The President of India, Draupadi Murmu, has scheduled a visit to Tripura on October 14 to lay the foundation-stone of the digital museum at Pushpabanta Palace. The Tourism Minister of Tripura, Pranajit Singha Roy, revealed that ₹40 crores had been sanctioned for transforming the century-old palace into a digital museum.
Why it matters: Roy stated that the administration is carrying out this project to develop the state’s tourism industry. He also said that this sector had seen tremendous development over the last four years, making the state more tourist-friendly. Religious tourism was conceptualized in the state with the setting up of the replica of all 51 Shakti Devis in a single complex.
Doorstep animal healthcare services soon (Jharkhand) – Officials have stated that people involved in animal husbandry will soon have better access to veterinarians and animal healthcare services through mobile units. Mobile Veterinary Units (MVUs), well-equipped ambulances with primary medical services, veterinary doctors, test facilities and para workers, will be available soon.
Why it matters: The operational cost of the units will be taken care of by the state government, rendering the services free of cost. Additionally, the Centre will bear the infrastructure cost of the service. Farmers can call experts and discuss the health of the animals, and the veterinary doctors will either prescribe medicine over the phone or visit the animal for treatment. This initiative will promote the quality of animal healthcare in addition to saving time and money.
Man builds robot to feed differently-abled daughter (Goa) – A daily wage worker in Goa, who has no technical knowledge, has built a robot to help his daughter have food without support as his ailing wife cannot feed her. The robot operates by voice command and feeds her what she wants to eat on the plate that is a part of the machine.
Why it matters: The invention of the daily wage worker has been recognized and applauded by the Goa State Innovation Council which is providing him with financial support to work on the machine and gauge its commercial viability. The worker, Bipin Kadam, used online sources to design the robot himself after he could not find one.
Kannada Bill tabled in Legislative Assembly (Karnataka) – The Karnataka government tabled the Kannada Comprehensive Bill, 2022 in the legislative assembly in order to protect the language and its users. The move was followed by severe opposition to the Hindi Divas celebration by opposition leaders and Kannada activists.
Why it matters: For the first time in the state, a legal framework has been initiated to make Kannada compulsory and provide reservations for Kannadigas in higher education and professional courses. It also has provisions for concessions or grant-in-aid for industries with jobs for locals.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
64% – A huge debate regarding moonlighting and whether it is ethical has taken over the internet recently. A survey conducted by Mint revealed that 64% of respondents considered moonlighting ethical.