The Congress Government in Punjab led by Captain Amarinder Singh has completed three years and the Chief Minister claims to have achieved new highs in many fields. However, the major promises and reforms which were promised at the time of Vidhan Sabha elections in 2017, remain unfulfilled. The heart burning among the Congress legislators continues and the workers at the grass root level are also not happy with the attitude of the state bureaucracy.
Captain Amarinder Singh had promised to end the menace of drug trafficking with Gutka in his hand during the election campaign within one month of the formation of his government. The drug menace continues to haunt the Punjabis despite the best efforts of the state government. As a matter of fact, the drug menace has spread so much that it is virtually impossible to completely wipe it out.
The Chief Minister claims that he has broken the backbone of the drug-peddlers as thousands of the drug peddlers have been arrested and put behind bars. The seizures of heroin have been mounting as a result of the antidrug trafficking campaign launched by the special task force (STF) setup by the Chief Minister.
The STF is headed by a very competent and honest senior police officer HS Sidhu of the rank of ADGP. The drugs continue to pour in from across the Pakistan border. The drug peddlers with the help of the ISI have been using the drones to drop the arms and drugs.
The deterioration in the law and order situation in the state continues to be a cause of worry. There is phenomenal rise in the number of gangsters. The number of gangsters which was just around 60 groups five years ago has risen to more than two thousand. Day light robberies are taking place despite the police campaign against the gangsters.
The group rivalries among the gangsters are also posing a serious threat to the law and order in the state. The jails in Punjab are overcrowded and jails are also witnessing gangsters fights.
The jails administration is also finding itself helpless in controlling them. The jail reforms have not taken place and new gadgets like the jammers which were proposed to be setup, have not been installed due to paucity of funds.
The sand mining was a big racket during the regime of the SAD-BJP government and the illegal sand mining has not been checked so far. The sand cartels of the Akali regime are working in connivance with the Congress politicians.
The Chief Minister has announced to bring a new sand mining policy but three years have passed and no such policy has been introduced so far. Only God knows what will happen in the next two years of the present term of the Amarinder Singh Government.
There is resentment among the Congress legislators and workers over the failure of the government in bringing in new transport policy which is dominated by the private operators including the Akali and Congress leaders.
The state run transport is facing financial losses. The illegal plying of private buses on long routes continues without any check. The Chief Minister has promised to bring a new transport policy but no steps have been taken in this regard. The Chief Minister faces strong criticism from its own legislators and senior Congress leaders.
The Congress government has also failed to generate government jobs during the past three years although it has been organizing ‘rozgar melas’ with the help of private entrepreneurs. The youth is not happy with private jobs as they do not get genuine payscales nor the benefits which are associated with the government jobs.
In view of the failure of the government to generate new jobs, the Punjabi youth are moving to the foreign lands like Canada, New Zealand and Australia and they are becoming victims to the unscrupulous travel agents.
As a matter of fact, the rural Punjab is now becoming the abode of the old people and the youth are not seen much in number. This is also a matter of great concern for the parents who have to sell their meager land holdings to send their wards to overseas countries.
The Punjab state has witnessed incidents of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government and incidents of police firing were reported from Behbal Kalan and Kotkapura in Faridkot district. The Badal government failed to apprehend the culprits and punish them.
Amarinder Singh Government setup special investigation team (STF) after the judicial commission of Justice Ranjit Singh (Retired) submitted its report to the state government. But the SIT investigation is also not making any progress because the CBI is creating obstacles.
The Badal government has entrusted the investigation to the CBI before it lost to the Congress in 2017 Vidhan Sabha election. The CBI filed a closure report exonerating all the culprits. But the Punjab Vidhan Sabha with Congress government decided to withdraw the investigation from CBI and CBI has refused to hand over the same to the Punjab police.
After Supreme Court verdict in favour of Punjab government, CBI now has filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court. This fact is also causing resentment among the Congress legislators and the Sikh organizations. The Badals are being blamed for the delay in the completion of the investigations.
Amarinder Singh had also promised to give a loan waiver to the Punjab farmers and a sum of Rs. 5123.43 crore has been disbursed to 5,61,567 farmers so far. The Government has proposed to give Rs. 520 crore to the landless farmers. The farming sector continues to be in distress and needs more relief measures.
The Centre has not come to the help of the farmers rather there are fears among the farmers over the reported decision of the Central government to do away with the MSP (minim support price) for different crops. No formal announcement has come from the Centre so far but there are apprehensions among the farmers of Punjab who have fed the entire country.
Just as the Congress is in disarray in the Centre without proper and effective leadership, Punjab is also facing similar situation. There is complete uncertainty over the state leadership as Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee was dissolved by Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the interim president alongwith other Pradesh Congress Committees.
Only Sunil Jakhar has been retained as the President of the state unit, no district unit is functional. Everything is in doldrums. With just two years to go to the Vidhan Sabha polls, the Congress legislators and the Congress workers are feeling disillusioned and disheartened.
The dissenting voices in the Punjab Congress are on the rise although the same do not pose any serious threat to the leadership of Amarinder Singh. But there is a strong feeling among the workers and the leaders that the Congress High Command should take serious view of the happenings in Madhya Pradesh and other states where the BJP is capturing the political scene… very fast.
Navjot Singh Sidhu who has been lying low after his ouster from the Punjab cabinet has now become active after meeting Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. He has started his own channel on You Tube titled ‘Jitte Ga Punjab’ (Punjab will win). He has started talking to the people through his channel and giving his own roadmap for Punjab. Amarinder Singh has not commented on the new initiative of Navjot Singh Sidhu so far.
The Central leadership of the Congress has to take a serious view of the situation developing in Punjab and set the house in order by reorganizing the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and putting the Congress workers on the job of preparing for the next Vidhan Sabha elections which are due to be held in 2022 February.
The Shiromini Akali Dal is not yet very active but the AAP has become active after the victory in Delhi Vidhan Sabha election.
K S Chawla is a senior journalist based at Ludhiana.
Can be reached at : email@example.com
Mobile : 99886-44244