Sunday, March 18, 2012

A discussion by Punjab Manch

Punjab Election:Poll % has considerably declined
Chandigarh// March 18, 2012//Bureau Report: 
Recent Punjab assembly polls witnessed highest ever turnover of around 79 per cent voting which could be projected as an evidence that Punjabis have a firm faith in the democratic system based on universal suffrage. But, at the same time poll percentage has considerably declined in the case of both the Akali-BJP combine which returned to power for the second time in a row and its main rival party, Congress- a runner-up in the election fray. As compared to the 2007 assembly elections, the winning alliance secured 3.49 per cent lesser votes and Congress’s share came down by 0.79 per cent. This trend indicates the Punjab voters have not swung in favor of either of the two main contenders. And they wanted a change in the regime which eluded them because of various reasons and factors. As statistics vouchsafe that the winning alliance, at least, could not claim the people have voted in favor of them overwhelmingly and have recorded their appreciation for “ better governance and development works undertaken by the last Akali-BJP regime”.    
    Thus, the election results have surprised and puzzled many about how the vote-arithmetic have worked and what factors played their decisive role in sealing the fate of an overconfident Congress. In their attempt to crack the puzzle; thinkers, academicians, journalists and social activists assembled in Kisan Bhawan here today and deliberated for about three hours on the undercurrents that brought Akalis-BJP back to power.
Participating in the discussion, organized by the Punjab Manch, former Baba Farid Medical University Registrar Dr Piayre Lal Garg said it is interesting that the Akari-BJP comes to power in Punjab even by getting 3.49 per cent less votes as compared to the 2007 election. Dr. Garg said there should be an alternative agenda to rally around recurring dissent among the people against the corporate and neo-liberal policies being pursued by the mainstream parties. There is an urgent need of dismantling a myth being orchestrated by the media that Akal-BJP combine won the election because of the best management by Sukhbir Singh Badal. 
Commenting on defeat of Congress, Senior journalist Hamir Singh said the Congress had failed to project itself as strong opposition to the Badal government, hence it could not cash upon on apparent wide-spread resentment among the people on some anti-people policies of the outgoing regime. As the Akali-BJP regime followed the same model of development in Punjab which was being pursued by Congress led UPA government at the Centre, the Punjab Congress could not gather the moral strength to oppose those policies. Visibly upset over such developments, the people wanted a change in the state’s governance and voted for the PPP getting a sizeable 5.17 per cent votes. Whereas Samajwadi Party swept the polls by gaining the same per cent of votes over its nearest rival BSP in Uttar Pradesh.
Senior columnist-writer Jaspal Singh Sidhu said the Punjab Congress lost election because its Delhi-based high command invariably adopts a patronizing attitude towards its state units and acts as a balancing force for different pressure groups instead of resolving their differences for strengthening them. Such top-down command structure of Congress and other all-India party, BJP are fast ceasing to work in the era of reasserting regionalism that has already forced the ‘national parties’ to form coalition governments with regional political parties.
Senior journalist Jagtar Singh said that the Akalis who were loosing six months before the polls, However managed to refashion their image, through skillful management. Despite the Election Commission’s strict vigilance, candidates freely exercised use of money and drinks through some innovative ways to buy votes.
Prof Manjit Singh from Punjab University said the common man stands nowhere in the electoral system which has virtually been hijacked and seized by those who have a hold on political, money and muscle power. And the democracy is no longer a participatory exercise for the people to choose their own representatives rather it has been turned out to be a ‘convenient tool’ in the hands of a political class to usurp power. 
Another columnist Karmajit Singh said the panthic agenda from religious point of view was totally ignored in the election but cultural strains too become a casualty perhaps because of globalization and corporate dominance has succeeded in spreading the Western culture and English language.
Another journalist Yadwinder said the politics has been corporatized leaving a shrunk space for alternate people’s agenda. 
But Malwinder Singh Mali said that people’s search for 3rd alternative could be seen as they refrained from voting the two mainstream parties resulting in decline in their vote share.
CPI(ML-Liberation) activist Kanwaljit Singh said the masses has to be motivated and politicized to make them vote for the alternative agenda of change as the masses in placid situation tend to be driven by their vested interests and short-sightedness. 
Former Punjab Mandi Board chairman Jugraj Singh Gill said congress lost elections because of wrong allocation of tickets.
Karnail Singh Jakhepal and several others participated in the discussion. 

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