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Posted at: Mar 12, 2019, 7:14 AM; last updated: Mar 12, 2019, 10:36 AM (IST)

Capt wrests nationalism narrative, BJP in dilemma

Capt wrests nationalism narrative, BJP in dilemma
CM Capt Amarinder Singh at Durgiana Temple in Amritsar. Tribune photo

Ruchika M Khanna

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11

With national pride becoming a pivotal issue in the General Election 2019, in Punjab Congress Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh seems to have wrested the “nationalism narrative” from the BJP and its Punjab ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Playing his cards well, he toured the state’s border areas immediately after the IAF Balakot airstrike. Taking the narrative to a whole new level, he interacted with border residents, assuring them of government help in case of any eventuality, expressing solidarity with soldiers posted at border posts as well as their families.

A day before the Modi-led Union Government “dared” Pakistan on February 26, the Punjab CM visited the families of Pulwama attack victims. Moved by the plight of the family of martyr Kulwinder Singh, who belonged to Rauli village in Ropar, he announced lifelong pension for his aged parents. 

Such gestures seems to have helped Capt Amarinder retain the goodwill of the people, preventing them from leaning towards the BJP. An ex-serviceman himself, the Chief Minister is being perceived as having said and done “the right thing, much like the PM”.  Earlier too the CM has taken a tough stand against “anti-nationals”, including separatist leaders and those funding their movements abroad. 

Senior BJP leaders in Punjab have been left fretting and fuming at their party’s “political agenda” being  hijacked by the CM of a Congress-ruled state. The saffron party is contesting three seats — Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur. Two of these are border constituencies where nationalist fervour is running high post the Balakot strike. “We believed the party would benefit from the nationalism agenda. But this may not be so. We are now banking on ‘anti-incumbency’ sentiment against the Capt Amarinder government,” said a  BJP leader. 

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