In early 2021, Punjab is slated to go to the polls. Preparations have already begun, and political parties are charging themselves ahead of what is expected to be a high voltage campaign in the state. Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are all eyeing power in Punjab.
The misinformed farmers’ protest has divided Punjab’s demography. Additionally, the majority Sikh vote itself will be split between the Congress, the Akali Dal and AAP this time round. A three way-split in the Sikh vote opens the way for the BJP to make certain gains in Punjab.
However, all political parties have realised that the Sikh vote is set to split and are making moves to woo the Hindu voters – who seem to be forming a consolidated voter base this time. From the Congress to the Akali Dal – every party seems to be working overtime to win the support of Hindus.
Amid reports that Sidhu could be made Congress state chief in Punjab, senior party leader Manish Tewari on Friday gave details of the composition of the state’s population, appearing to bat for a Hindu face for the post. His colleague Pawan Dewan asked Congress about the representation of the Hindu community in key posts in the state unit.
Demographics of Punjab:
1. Sikhs : 57.75 %
2. Hindus : 38.49%
3. Dalits : 31:94 % (Sikh&Hindus)
Punjab is both progressive & SECULAR.
ਹਿੰਦੂ ਤੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਦਾ ਨਹੁੰ-ਮਾਸ ਦਾ ਰਿਸ਼ਤਾ ਹੈ!
balancing SOCIAL INTEREST GROUPs is key
बराबरी सामाजिक न्याय की बुनियाद है!
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) July 16, 2021
Dewan noted that the Punjab Congress president, Punjab’s chief minister, Punjab Youth Congress president, and Punjab Congress’s campaign committee chairperson were all Jat Sikhs.”
Most recently, even chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is batting for more Hindu representation within the Congress organisation in Punjab. As a result, the Congress high command is considering putting up a prominent responsibility in the hands of a Hindu leader, most probably as the chairman of the campaign committee that will play an important role in the run-up to the elections. Earlier this month, Chief Minister Singh had a meeting with several party leaders, mostly Hindu leaders, representing urban areas at his official residence in Chandigarh.
Meanwhile, the Shiromani Akali Dal has gone a step further and announced that if voted to power, the party will make a Hindu deputy chief minister. Sukhbir Singh Badal said, “Some external forces want to disturb peace in Punjab. We guarantee the Punjabis that the SAD is committed to keep all communities together and therefore we have decided to have a leader from the Hindu community as deputy CM once we form government.”
Earlier, the Akali Dal had even announced a Dalit deputy chief minister as well, if voted to power. The Dalit community – comprising of both Hindus and Sikhs is also slated to play a critical role in next year’s state elections.
These moves make it clear that all parties in Punjab expect the Hindu community to play a crucial role in next year’s assembly polls. The community, which forms close to 38 per cent of the population in the state, can swing the results decisively in favour of any party with its consolidated support. The farmers’ protests which have been hijacked by Khalistani elements have divided the citizens of Punjab, and Hindus are not expected to vote for those who extended their support to such protests.
Hindus are thus going to play the role of a kingmaker in the upcoming assembly polls in Punjab.