Punjab, the bread basket of India with its large farmers’ base, the land of the big hearted and the agile farmer clan who are found in innumerable plenty in the defense forces and who have made India proud with their infallible reputation in the Sikh regiment are today smitten by the epidemic of Drugs, which is a potently precarious political tool!
Owe it to their heavy drinking and partying culture or fanciful false status symbols of misinterpreted masculinity to show off trendy cars, drugs and guns usage or the supply of raw opium by landlords to farmers to encourage them to work harder or the supply of synthetic drugs from across the border with injectable drugs that has alarmingly increased HIV rates to 26% and today 4 out of 10 youth is a drug addict.
Although they are culturally vibrant and have high rural literacy levels as compared to the national averages, today Punjab is grappling with an acute drug menace so much that it has now become a poll issue. The Aam Aadmi Party that swept the Delhi assembly elections has got into an election spree yet again and is now set on its expansionist agenda with an eagle’s eye on the 2017 Punjab assembly elections.
AAP has unveiled its Youth Manifesto promising 25 lakh jobs in five years, free Wi-Fi hotspots in villages and a special law for ensuring imprisonment till death for drug dealers. Some of highlights of the poll manifesto that runs up to 51 points are:
Employment: AAP Youth Manifesto promulgates on providing entrepreneurship and skill centers and setting up of Foreign Employment Youth Board, pitching exactly the local mindset where it is a prestigious affair to go abroad. Though Punjab is largely a farmer’s den, many of them migrate to Canada, Australia, UK and the US for better opportunities which creates a social desperation amongst those who stay back to falsely ape their western counterparts in terms of culture and often times they are misled and get trapped in the drug network.
The entrepreneurial agenda might be a welcome remedy but a board for foreign employment will only drain out the farmer’s community and is not good for the agro-economy.
Anti-Drugs Campaign: This is the biggest and bold poll pitch which claims to cut the drug supply chain within one month and proclaims an imprisonment until death if found guilty of drug smuggling. It also has announced de addiction and rehab programs by including parents and teachers.
Education: In the Education stream the AAP Youth Manifesto announces to increase budgetary allocations and has offered some more populist freebies like free bus services to students and free laptops to students from 9th onwards thereby promising to fill 29000 vacancies of teachers in government schools. Another catch is the promise to set up an Institute for Film and Media in Mohali.
Sports: Punjab Olympic Mission and Mass Sports Movement and Sports University to be set up thereby appointing sports coach in every block along with an increase in budget for sports
Well, it is a welcome poll pitch and my best wishes to the party in the upcoming elections but what is bemusing is that some media houses and online surveys are already projecting Arvind Kejriwal as the CM face of Punjab!
The Delhi boy who slogged it out with hunger strikes and street protests with the sole objective of begetting a thriving Delhi, who famously said that his governance would create “Job Providers and not Job seekers”, why then is he seeking a job in Punjab? Or is he simply brushing aside his responsibility by attributing its unfinished unresolved projects and problems to its non-statehood and the central interferences?
Just before the 2014 Lok sabha elections, Mr.Arvind Kejriwal created his visibility amidst the anti-incumbency mood of the nation against a scam stricken Congress party by playing an anti-corruption crusader’s card.
He drifted along the Modi wave and seized some of Modi’s overtly popular ways of connecting with the people via the social media that had stirred a wave of emotions, an urge among the citizens of India to voice vociferously against the foolery they were subjected to. Subsequently Mr.Kejriwal high jacked this furor against corruption and formed a new party that claimed to make a difference and quickly cashed up on the minds of the youth, the poor, the educated and the elite.
The overwhelmed commoners of Delhi smoothly drank his exposes’ he fed us about Robert Vadra’s illegal land deals and the loud talks of dealing sternly with corrupt biggies like Shiela Dixit and their like only to ally with the same Congress in the phase I of AAP, remember the 49 days stint!
The Congress’s “Roti, Kapada and Makaan” were customized and chalked out by AAP as “Wifi, Water and Wattage”!
Quite diligently the Delhiites who were swept off with the populist ideas without pondering upon its implications, voted in decisive numbers in the hope of reform and a big revolution if not recreation, because it was the first time that someone young and educated, an IITian with a built-in media made image of an anti-corruption crusader, a social reformer who had voiced and articulated their point of view and had connected well at the ground levels.
But the hardcore reality is that able administration with long term solutions and short cut methods of fiscal policy are two different things that make or break an economy.
The populist measures such as free water of up to 20000lts and 50% slicing of electricity bills up to 400units and some pro poor health measures like the accommodation of EWS patients in private hospitals at the private hospital’s cost is definitely short sighted and flawed because at the end of the day nothing comes free, and everything costs money, somebody has to pay for a service or supply that is consumed and delivered. And oftentimes this somebody happens to be the hapless taxpayer! It is another thing that some 7 lakh people are homeless and don’t even have water pipelines or even water meters for that matter. But Indians love freebies right?
Elsewhere in the Vidharba regions of Maharastra authorities have administered a 24/7 water supply mechanism without much media glare and the poor people are willingly paying for the water they are consuming.
Today an estimated Rs.1427crores has been set aside for subsidies by the AAP government in Delhi, rebates are being given for pending water bills that run up to lakhs of rupees. Sewerage charges too have been waived off for those availing the subsidy costing the state an exchequer of Rs.250 Crores per annum which will of course be made good by passing it to the people or by blaming the center for insufficient funds or perhaps by hopping to a new job in Punjab!
A progressive economy has to generate revenue afresh by wealth creation and not by mere wealth redistribution schemes. The relocation of wealth by means of providing freebies and subsidies only creates incompetence and kills the very spirit of creativity, hard work and intelligentsia and will gradually doom the economic growth.
While the politicos of Delhi are mired in ugly mudslinging, the people are stranded with dirty roads laden with garbage, traffic, unreasonable power cuts and water shortage, the city is miserably scrambling to keep its pollution levels under control in spite of a controversial piloting of the odd-even formula.
While on one hand bus marshals are deployed for women safety, on the other hand it rewards a rapist with a rehabilitation gesture almost nullifying the social message sent across to the susceptible masses.
The party that claimed to cleanse the system is today grappling within, mired in its own internal issues like fallout of close aides, sorting out fake degrees and cases of domestic violence of its ministers. The egoistic immaturity exhibited in dealing with Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and even the top cop B.S.Bassi has only jeopardized the common cause of welfare of Delhi.
The AAP government has failed to control price rise of essential commodities. With not many women in decisive authority and many other notable voices shown the doors, the AAP government comes out as a patriarchal party that is banking only on fast moving consumable goading(FMCG) by focusing on superficial moves like installation of CCTV, free wifi hotspots and subsidies when the larger issue lies elsewhere.
Yes it has done well on curbing the exorbitant fees in schools and setting up a nursery helpline, building 300+ night shelters for the homeless, establishing Mohalla clinics, getting a Jan lokpal bill although a weaker version of the original one, announcing compensation of one crore for uniformed men from Delhi who lose their life on the line of duty.
But it is also true that the same people of Delhi that had voted for Modi at the center and chosen him for the state has now in the 2016 MCD elections credited AAP with only 29% of votes as against the 52% votes it had earned in assembly elections, which clearly establishes the fact that the people of Delhi are indeed unhappy as there is a lot more to be done in Delhi before setting foot elsewhere.
The many promises of building of 2 lakh toilets, 900 primary health care centers, 500 new schools, securing 30000 beds in Delhi hospitals, setting up of Mahila Suraksha Dal with 10000 guards, containing the pollution in Yamuna, setting up schools and hospitals in every village, checking of tax evasion and inflation, citizens’ Lad funds where people decide how money should be spent and the list goes on….
Elections are totally unpredictable and the gullible Punjabis might do a Delhi or choose to remain with their vote base but any hung results may lead to AAP allying with Congress yet again which the people of Punjab should be vary of. Whether AAP makes it in Punjab or not, whether AK takes out a referendum amongst Delhiites, on his Punjab aspirations or not but certainly this ambitious and expansionist move by AAP without fulfilling its promises in Delhi will not go very well with the Delhi voter base who will be left high and dry after reposing so much of faith.