Badals under a cloud

The year gone by was loaded with political excitement in Punjab.

Badals under a cloud

The SAD-BJP government in the state failed to live up to the expectations of the people


Sarbjit Dhaliwal

The year gone by was loaded with political excitement in Punjab. It saw the meteoric rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which suffered defeat in the rest of the country, in the Lok Sabha elections in May this year. In contrast, for the mainstream parties such as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Congress, it was a year of disappointment. The AAP, making its political debut, won four Lok Sabha seats whereas the Congress, expecting big wins, got only three seats and the BJP got two. The SAD, which was expecting to do well, had to contend with four seats. What came as a big shock to the BJP was defeat of its stalwart Arun Jaitley in Amritsar by former Congress CM Capt Amarinder Singh, who won by a big margin.
Reason for the AAP to achieve such a success was failure of the SAD-BJP government in the state to live up to the expectations of the people. The poor  performance in the Lok Sabha elections, despite Modi wave across the country, resulted in an unabated cold war between the two alliance partners — the SAD and the BJP — thus leading to rumours and uncertainty. On the other hand, the constitution of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee by the then Hooda Government earlier this year kept the SAD leadership on tenterhooks for months.
Few months after Jaitley’s defeat, former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu opened a front against the SAD leadership by targeting Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. However, the war of words was not only confined to the SAD-BJP. The Congress was equally at sea but for a little different reason. Infighting in its ranks, especially between the PPCC President Partap Singh Bajwa camp and the group led by Capt Amarinder Singh has made its task difficult to confront the SAD-BJP government, which has lost its sheen to a large extent. After making a roaring political entry via Lok Sabha elections, the AAP’s charisma has also waned a bit.
Meanwhile, a legal battle continues over performing the last rites of Ashutosh, whose body is lying in a freezer at his dera at Nurmahal, near Jalandhar, for the past eight months. He was declared clinically dead by a team of doctors on January 29 this year. However, his followers are refusing to perform his last rites.
The issue that jolted the state for a while was the killing of two brothers,  Harinder Singh and Jatinder Singh, in a fake encounter in the Jamalpur area of Ludhiana in September. Hailing from Bhoapur village near Machhiwara, both were good kabaddi players and supporters of the AAP. Police officials, who initially denied it was a fake encounter, later admitted under public pressure that it was a fake encounter. The government remained on the backfoot on this issue for months as various opposition parties attacked it in this regard.
Throughout the year, the menace of drugs remained in the limelight.


clashing swords: A clash between radical elements and members of the SGPC task force at the Golden Temple complex was widely condemned                                                            

HOLY divide: The Hooda government fulfilled the long-standing demand of Haryana Sikhs by creating the HSGMC,  causing confrontation with the SGPC                                

Khaps go soft: The khaps softened their stand on many issues this year like giving out a code of conduct on marriages and other issues                                                                                                               

sisters in arms: Sisters Puja and Aarti were in the news for beating up eve-teasers. But later their role was questioned forcing the govt to form a SIT to bring out the truth                                        

desperate bid: The burning issue of unemployment came to the fore when Gurpreet Kaur attempted immolation in front of the CM Parkash Singh Badal’s residence                                                                    

great bank robbery:  Thieves dug up 125-foot-long tunnel in a bank in Gohana and escaped with cash and jewellery worth crores from lockers in the strong room                                      



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