Captain Amarinder Singh, a person admired across party lines is indeed a good man. However, is he a good administrator, leave alone a Chief Minister? The steep increase in stubble burnings across the state of Punjab indicate Captain’s colossal failure at governance. In what should come as a wake-up call for his government for quick action, Captain has again resisted himself from taking action fearing resentment from his vote bank among the farmers.
While Haryana and Uttar Pradesh were successful in controlling mass stubble burnings this season, the same practice went unabated in Punjab. According to reports, SAFAR has stated that the share of stubble burning from Punjab and Haryana in Delhi’s air pollution has increased to 46 per cent. While the practice of burning crop residue has seen decline in Haryana, it has peaked in Punjab with a 25% spike in stubble burning in the state. Punjab alone has reported 22,137 cases of stubble burning so far. Who else do we hold accountable for these figures if not Captain Amarinder Singh? If he indeed is the tough man we believe he is, shouldn’t he have taken stern action against the perpetrators of this dangerous and harmful practise?
If one may remember, Amarinder Singh had promised the eradication of drugs from the state within four months of him assuming power. Leave alone eradication, there is no empirical evidence to suggest that drug abuse has declined in Punjab. The menace of drugs has plagued the state for long now, and has destroyed generations. While the previous Akali Dal government did next to nothing to stop the flow of drugs in Punjab, a main factor due to which Captain was voted to power was the issue of drug abuse. Singh’s government had suggested death penalty for drug smuggling and peddling. It is infantile for his government to think that drugs will be wiped out of Punjab in the absence of a stringent mechanism in place. A capital punishment alone will do nothing to eradicate drugs, as the street peddlers in Punjab are not the source of drugs in the state. How ISI is destroying Punjab by drugs is no secret. Moreover, powerful political leaders and influential personalities are involved in the drug peddling business. Unless Amarinder Singh fights a war directly with these individuals, Punjab will not witness freedom from drugs.
Another uncomfortable issue for the Amarinder Singh government is that of law and order and crime in Punjab. While crimes against women remains a top concern, the radicalization of Sikhs back to the Khalistani movement is a equally a matter of grave concern. The sole responsibility of ensuring Punjab does not take a moonwalk back to the 80’s and 90’s rests with Captain Amarinder Singh.
To be fair to Singh though, Punjab has always had fluctuating governments. People have two choices: the Congress or the Akali Dal. The Badals are brought to power when the people are sick and tired of the Congress, and vice versa. In this vicious cycle of lack of political alternatives, the people of Punjab always suffer. The BJP has not yet grown a strong machinery in the state which can take on both the Congress and the Badals. Therefore, whenever one party comes to power, most of its time goes in cleaning the mess which the other left the state in.
Although Captain is admired as a staunch nationalist and a proud Indian serviceman, his image is marred when his government is seen not acting on contentious issues. Time and again, Singh has taken stands that are in line with national interest. Post the Pulwama terror attack, the Punjab CM launched a scathing attack on Imran Khan. He had said, “Dear @ImranKhanPTI you have Jaish chief Masood Azhar sitting in Bahawalpur & masterminding the attacks with ISI help. Go pick him up from there. If you can’t let us know, we’ll do it for you. BTW what has been done about the proofs of Mumbai’s 26/11 attack. Time to walk the talk.”
Moreover, Singh had also slammed former Punjab minister and Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu for visiting Pakistan and hugging Pakistani Army chief General Bajwa during Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony as Pakistan PM. He said, “Everyday our jawans are getting martyred. To hug their Chief General Bajwa…I am against this.” Singh further added, “To say that ‘I don’t know General Bajwa’…it is written on their uniform. That’s wrong for him (Sidhu) to have shown the affections he did for the Pakistan Army Chief.”
Being a nationalist in the Congress party may perhaps be one reason as to why Singh is not realizing his governance dream to the fullest. However, being a good person and mere rhetoric doesn’t make one a good Chief Minister. Prompt action was expected of him on issues which impact more than the people of his own state, in which he has failed.