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Monday, May 23, 2022

Explained: How Congress is pitching old issues to win the Punjab election

A look at how the ruling Congress in Punjab is defending itself while taking up the same issues on which it had contested the 2017 elections.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: January 31, 2022 8:40:59 am
Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi with Navjot Singh Sidhu. (File)

With elections less than a month away, all political parties in the state have put forth key issues similar to the ones they had highlighted in the run up to the 2017 Assembly elections. While opposition parties have all the reasons to target the ruling Congress for putting forth the same of issues, which they couldn’t address in the past five years, the opposition parties have also made those issues their poll plank. The Indian Express explains how the ruling Congress is defending itself while taking up the same issues on which it had contested the 2017 elections.

What are the key issues in Punjab Assembly elections this time?

Drug menace, delayed justice in sacrilege of Guru granth Sahib (religious book of the Sikhs) sand mafia, liquor mafia, transport mafia, cable mafia, unemployment, farmers’ distress, corruption and increasing debt on the Punjab state etc. are the key issues in this election. The opposition parties are targeting the ruling party for not fulfilling any of these major issues being faced by the state for over a decade now. As SAD president Sukhbir Badal made sand mafia one of the major issues this time, then he targeted Congress for forcing them to handover the probe in sacrilege case to CBI and when Congress came to power it took back the case from CBI resulting in inordinate wait for justice. AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal also said that the state will earn Rs 20,000 crore by stopping illegal sand mining in the state. Even BJP Punjab affairs in-charge and Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had said that Punjab is under Rs 4 lakh debt and they will get the state out of it.

How the Congress is taking up these issues again?

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Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi recently said that if voted to power then one lakh jobs will be provided in the first year of government formation. While in the last elections the then CM face Captain Amarinder Singh had launched a campaign ‘Har Ghar Captain’ under which they had promised to provide one job to each household in the state. Youths were asked to fill forms but most remained jobless even after five years of Congress government. When the party failed to redress the drug menace in the state and still several youths are dying due to drug addiction, the Congress booked former SAD minister Bikram Majithia in the drug case at the end of their almost 5-years rule.

PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said that he will stop illegal sand mining if Congress gets a chance again then the sand rate per tractor-trolley will be reduced from Rs 4,000 to Rs 1,000 per trolley. Similarly, he said that money going in the pockets of the sand mafia will be stopped and it will enhance the income of the state once a proper system is set up. Sidhu is also talking about cable mafia monopoly in the state, which will be stopped if they are voted to power. Liquor and transportation are other major issues that Sidhu has been talking about. He is also taking up farmers’ issues by promising the MSP on pulses and oilseeds and providing storage for the perishable horticultural crops.

How Congress is defending itself while taking up old issues even after their five-year rule?

Most Congress leaders are targeting former Congress CM Captain Amarinder Singh, who faced a humiliating exit from the party, for his misrule and not acting tough on the issues that he had promised in the run up to the 2017 elections. They are just talking about Channi’s performance in the last three months and telling people that after the change of the CM, Majithia was booked and the sacrileges and Bargarhi cases probe are also moving fast and soon justice will prevail. They are highlighting the less time that they got and are still acting on big issues such as drugs and sacrileges.

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