With the much touted fourth front in Punjab assembly elections, Awaaz-e-Punjab (AeP), having been nipped in the bud and its leadership opting for greener pastures even before it could take full shape, the contest in the polls has once again assumed the dimension of a triangular contest.
Launched with much promise of being a political platform with a difference which would taken on the established political parties like the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress as well as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the AeP leaders have turned out to be just like any other ordinary politicians in Punjab. When it came to the crunch, the Bains brothers and Sidhu chose to take the well trodden path of protecting own political future and all the tall promises of bringing a political revolution in the state fell flat.
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After having shared the same platform as Navjot Sidhu when he lambasted the AAP leadership, including its national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal, Ludhiana independent MLAs, Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains have joined hands with the same very party whom they had discarded as an option just two months back. Much political sheen has been taken off both the brothers with their move to enter into an agreement with a party whom they had opposed some time back.
The image of Navjot Singh Sidhu too has taken a heavy beating in the state with his waxing and waning ever since he resigned from the Rajya Sabha. Sidhu’s moves looked increasingly hesitant and uncertain as he maintained am ambiguity about his status with the BJP and it seemed that this was part of a calculated move. However, when he finally resigned from the party’s primary membership and held apress conference in Chandigarh to announce AeP with immense gusto and faith in himself as well as Pargat Singh and Bains brothers, for a moment it had seemed that he had finally taken the plunge in Punjab’s electoral politics.
However, the permutations and combinations of political pundits on how this new front will cut into anti-Akali votes and would end up helping the ruling party, went for a toss when Sidhu announced that the AeP will not be a full fledged party. This came as a shock to his own collaborators-Bains brothers and Pargat-as they seemed to have been caught unawares. From then on the descent from a politically moral high ground leading to bargaining with Congress and AAP was steady. Sidhu opened negotiations with the same Congress which he had attacked in his press conference and whose state president, Capt Amarinder Singh, had been dismissed by him as just another face of the Akalis. And with his wife joining the party in days to come, he too is now expected to do so in her footsteps to complete a spectacular u-turn.
With the demise of AeP, the Congress and AAP are again in the reckoning as strong contenders in the 2017 elections. Whatever traction the AeP leaders could have derived has been negated with the dilly-dallying shown by them in charting their own future and then by joining hands with the very people they had opposed.
The loser in real terms in the short life span of AeP has been former SAD MLA Pargat Singh who was in the thick and thin with Bains brothers and Sidhu but who has been left bewildered while others went around negotiating new terms. Eventually, he too had no option but to cut his losses and opted for joining the Congress, though in his case, with much of his clean reputation still intact.