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Posted at: Oct 9, 2018, 12:54 AM; last updated: Oct 9, 2018, 12:54 AM (IST)

Dangerous, petty politics

Rallies can play into wrong hands
Dangerous, petty politics

The Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal held rallies on Sunday. The theme of these events was to berate each other. There was also another rally at Bargari, in which the Khaira group of the Aam Aadmi Party took centre stage and condemned the other two parties for lack of action against those who had committed acts of sacrilege three years ago, as also those responsible for the police firing that resulted in the death of protesters. The issue is emotive, as the SAD found out when it lost the Assembly elections. The Congress government successfully instituted a judicial inquiry into the incidents and announced an SIT, and is waiting for the due process of law. But public perception seldom waits for procedural niceties, and there is a clamour for arrests from people at large.

The AAP rebel group appropriated a dharna, being held by Sikh activists and largely attended by common people, at Bargari, the site of the 2015 police firing. It showed dexterity in jumping on to the emotive bandwagon. Was it wise? Mixing religious sentiments with politics can be dangerous, more so in Punjab. Who can forget the bloodshed of the 1980s? Even as the Badal duopoly over the Shiromani Akali Dal is being challenged, the Congress seeks to fish in these troubled waters. This, too, is fraught with danger, as the Congress has earlier repeatedly burnt its hands when it tried to intervene in the religious bodies and affairs of the Sikhs. Instead, it should focus on finding ways to address the angst among the Sikhs and shake off the perception of inaction which is fuelling the Bargari protests. It must find means to speedily take to its logical conclusion the task it has embarked upon through the Ranjit Singh Commission and the SIT.

Rally politics is often about tribal/group loyalties where rhetoric is raised to a hysterical pitch, even as reason reels from the hyperbolic blows of speakers engaged in one-upmanship. Punjab needs to focus on governance and delivering the goods to the people. This is what the government and opposition parties should concentrate on.

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