Addressing Dalit issues should be top priority
Charanjit Singh Channi has been declared Congress CM face because he comes from a poor family and understands their problems. But how will he eradicate poverty and redress core Dalit issues if appointed the CM, seems to be a pipe dream. Actually, Channi has been declared a CM face for many reasons such as keeping an eye on 32% Dalit population that can tilt the scales in favour of Congress, to checkmate Navjot Sidhu, the bête noire of Captain and Channi governments; to rein in Jat Sikhs dominated politics in Punjab and to show the people of Punjab that they need a CM who is from a ‘Gareeb ghar’ . Is he really Gareeb? Anyway a CM face is not the answer to all the woes of Dalits. It is the Dalit vote bank policy that has worked in favour of Channi . The party wants to keep the pot of caste, colour, creed and religion boiling for extracting political mileage. Poverty is widespread not only among the Dalits but also among other communities. The poverty cannot be eliminated in a short time; rather it is a long term goal. How will Channi be able to prevent corruption and the high- handedness of the bureaucracy to eradicate poverty, is anybody’s guess? He doesn’t have any magic wand to alleviate the lot of his clan. For that he will have to develop and implement rapid and sustained economic growth, policies and programmes in areas like health, education, nutrition and sanitation allowing the poor to participate and contribute to the growth. That seems to be quite a tall order as Channi won’t be allowed to function independently by Sidhu and his ilk.
Tarsem S Bumrah
Politicians don’t care about our needs
The declaration of Charanjit Singh Channi as the Congress’s chief ministerial face in Punjab will be projected as a historical step and will be the hot topic for debate. Every religion, community, caste or creed in India has the poorest of the poor as well as the ultra-rich in them. Is it not just unconstitutional to expect that any person belonging to any such section of the society will take special care of the ones belonging to his group? For politicians, politics is a lucrative business for amassing wealth. The poor and deprived are conveniently divided on numerous counts so that they do not rise together to demand their basic rights and to question the performance of their elected representatives. ‘We the people of India...’ so begins our Constitution. The politicians have made us Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Swarns, Dalits or the ones belonging to this caste or that and whatnot. Unless we correct politicians as responsible and united Indians, they won’t care about our needs and problems, their catchy slogans and promises notwithstanding.
A populist approach bound to fail
Announcement of a Chief Ministerial face, whether by one party or the other, is a negation of the parliamentary democratic system. In the context of Rahul Gandhi and his Congress, it is a big IF. IF the party wins adequate number of seats, and IF Charanjit Singh Channi also wins from Chamkaur Sahib or/and Bhadaur, he will likely be the Punjab Chief Minister of the next government. Yes. But all this is political exigency of the Congress and yet another instance of populism. Incidentally, Channi is not a poor man by any stretch of imagination. As per law, the leader should be elected by the winning team. The core issues of the Dalit and of those living below the poverty line are food, health, education and most importantly, jobs. They are not organised. I think only a poor intellect will confidently believe that only a poor leader can address the core issues of the poor. These issues need a genuine political will, proper planning, prioritisation and the required funds. In the present election imbroglio, no party talks of funds, no one is assured of majority but everyone is building castles in the air. The public is fed on fallacies and falsehoods. Fortunately this time, the voters are disillusioned and understand that politics is the ‘business’ of politicians. They invest in it and know how to reap the harvest. Their families run the state whether from this party or the other. They have members everywhere and regular lawyers and liars who guide them on this lucrative business of befooling the electorate. Tomorrow, we will have some PM faces. Are we heading for the Presidential system? It needs a thorough discussion.
Post of CM has been deprecated
In the Punjab electoral history, there has never been such a colossal clamour for forcing the party high-commands for declaration of CM face, particularly by the Congress and AAP candidates. It is a well-known fact that over the last some decades, the regimes have been out and out endeavoured to devastate the state over which they were ruling. The post of CM has been profusely deprecated by the masses as except for lording over the drug, cable, transport, property, and sand mafias, they hardly did anything. The Congress high command was forced to appoint Channi as CM. The CM candidate for SSM has done creditable service to the kisan morcha. The kisans led by Punjab have shown at Delhi that they could defeat the mightiest. But, it is baffling that the same bunch of self-sacrificing super mortals remained silent spectators to the devastation of Punjab. Declaring CM candidate is immaterial, when the majority of the members of the parties remain treasure hunters. AAP candidate, though, reportedly honest, has to follow orders from Delhi.
Move to attract Dalit voters
The question asked is relevant not only for Charanjit Singh Channi but to all political parties leaders. This is because nowadays irrespective of party all leaders are busy wooing Dalits by giving tall promises to redress all woes of them. No political party and its leaders are concerned about general category people. All are in pursuit of gathering votes by making tall promises to uplift Dalits as all know that Dalit vote bank will help them win elections. So, there is no doubt that the CM will ensure redressal of core Dalit issues and poverty but at the same time it’s doubtful that populist measures will be ever taken and implemented. As we are all aware of the fact that whatever our politicians make commitments before elections in their manifestos are never fulfilled on assumption of power by them.
Parties use religion card to gain votes
Recently, the incumbent CM of Punjab has been declared as chief ministerial face by the Congress high command for the Assembly elections. The announcement was an effort to overcome the core issues related to Dalits. As CM Channi is from Dalit background, that’s why he was considered as the best candidate who can resolve issues pertaining to eradication of poverty in state. Political parties always use religion card to gain votes. They need to understand that being a Dalit face is not enough if he is incompetent to operate the economy. A candidate should possess qualities of a true leader who can do welfare of public and is capable to remove corruption in state.
Improve the political set-up of our country
Elections are just around the corner and political parties are using many means to woo voters. Dalits constitute a major part of population and leaders are trying to gain their confidence by many means. Having a CM face belonging to a particular caste has been experimented in the past but there has not been much improvement in the daily lives of these people. It is usually a way for leaders to associate themselves with the public but they forget about the important issues after they come into power. People must be made aware to not fall into such traps but vote for a person based on his/her work performance in the past. People who are committed to their work can improve the lives of Dalits and they are urgently required to improve the political setup of our country.
Jatinderpal Singh Batth
Can be a turning point for Dalits
As Charanjit Singh Channi comes from a poor background, he is quite aware about the common man’s woes. For instance, having already waived off the electric bills, he has started revolutionising the world for the Dalits. Not only Dalit issues, he can also work on and improve the conditions of every common man. The Congress must work for their communal harmony by employing them in the government services. According to the doctrine of right to equality, the category discrimination must be completely removed by the Congress in Punjab. Having a very supportive group of leaders in Punjab, the Congress’s small steps can prove to be the turning point in the lives of the Dalits.
Expectations would certainly be high
Charanjit Singh Channi has been declared as the CM face of Punjab by the Congress. Almost one third (32 percent) of Punjab’s population is Dalit, which is the highest for any Indian state. The Dalit voters are many in numbers in the state and their expectations would be certainly high from the Channi if congress party wins. There are numerous issues of Dalit community in Punjab and Channi should pay heed to that since Channi is the only hope for them. Besides, Channi should also take care the predicament of other communities too since being a CM is the huge responsibility and one should perform it with dedication and conviction.
Dalit votes hard to resist for anyone
The Congress’s initiative of declaring Channi as the CM face in the state elections is nothing but a desperate political maneuver with the sole motive
of enhancing the prospects of winning elections. It has nothing to do with uplifting the Dalit community and removing the poverty as claimed by Congress leadership. The candidature of Channi is nothing more than an attempt of using Dalit narrative to garner maximum votes to retain power in the state. But how far the exercise is going to benefit the party is a serious subject of debate. Akali Dal has also tried to woo Dalit votes by promising deputy chief ministership to a Dalit candidate for which even alliance with the BSP was formed. Dalit votes which constitute roughly 32% of Punjab electorate are hard to resist by power greedy political parties which otherwise have lost their credibility due to wide spread corruption, patronised and unabated nexus of various mafia gangs with the government earlier headed by both Akali Dal and Congress.
Vote for those having good credentials
Rahul Gandhi has played a trump card with the naming of Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief ministerial candidate. But, only if the Congress party gets a majority of seats in the coming assembly elections, Dalit Chief Minister will get for the Congress majority of SC and BC votes. Since Independence, Congress used to get good number of votes from these classes all over the country. But its percentage declined over time as many parties got their votes. Previously it was vote-bank politics for the Congress. No more. Many parties promise many things to the voters, particularly the SC and BC population. Subsequently, they don’t fulfil their promises. It is true of all the parties. With the SC and BC population more than 30%in Punjab, the Congress may get majority of their votes. Is the Dalit CM face answer to all the problems of those communities and ensure redressal is a moot point. With many parties in the fray, it’s unlikely that any single party will get majority of seats. I think there would be a hung Assembly and a coalition government would be in the chair. People have to be watchful and vote only for the party and candidate whose work and credentials are reliable and good. Now the ball is in the court of the people.
Political system need extensive reforms
As the polling date to Punjab Assembly is getting nearer, political parties are leaving no stone unturned to garner votes to their favour. This time, it is a multi pronged contest among candidates as pre-poll alliances are far less. Now that the election campaign is at full momentum, political parties are making various strategies and offering all kinds of sops to allure voters. To fetch favour of 40 per cent SC/ST population of the state, every party is proposing higher berths to them in government, on coming to power. As the winning margins in these polls are anticipated so close, they are all out to polarise the society on volatile line of caste, creed and religion for electoral gains. Surprisingly, the major issues like mounting debt burden & depleting groundwater concerning the State are left to occupy the back seat. After declaration of next CM’s face by AAP and SAD, Congress party has also announced incumbent CM Channi as their face for another term. Though the objective is to attract Dalit votes by signalling to address their core issues, it is paradoxical to predict that the communal card may tilt the electoral balance to their side, since the party is fighting broad dissent over ticket allocation besides anti incumbency. Notwithstanding some improvements in the past, our political system still demands extensive reforms, where division of votes on caste and creed basis has to be curbed.
Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath
Populist schemes upsets state economy
Congress has decided to play power game on the issue of Dalits by projecting the present Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi as its CM face in the state to woo the Dalit vote bank. Congress is focusing on Dalits vote bank but the issue arises that whether it will succeed in securing more votes of Dalits than the other political parties who have their core cadre of Dalits in BJP, BSP, and SAD (B). Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi has already announced liberal policies during his tenure. Populist schemes are always announced in the pre-poll period but if implemented in the post election period upsets the economy and further exceeds the state’s debit. Punjab is already under heavy debt from the Centre. Wait and watch is the ultimate result to be witnessed after the counting of votes, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander.
RAJAT KUMAR MOHINDRU
Bid to divert attention from real issues
Amid accusations of non-performance, severe internal wrangling and large-scale defections, the Congress announcement to pick the incumbent CM Charanjit Singh Channi to lead the party in the upcoming Assembly elections is solely aimed at wooing the crucial Dalit-OBC vote-bank that has a sizeable population in Punjab. Channi has openly declared that education, health and employment are his priorities; it has a special appeal for the marginalised sections which bear the brunt of inadequate infrastructure in these areas. Moreover, they face problems of equal socio-economic rights, untouchability, residential plots and cultivatable land. But to keep his commitment will be a formidable task as Punjab is in dire financial straits.
D S Kang
As Punjab votes on February 20, what should voters keep in mind while deciding which party should be at the helm of affairs for the next five years. What vision should one have for a prosperous Punjab while exercising franchise?
Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to [email protected] Thursday (February 17)
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