January 30, 2017 4:22:02 pm
National security and references to religious tension was at the core of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s plea for votes in Punjab as the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) alliance seeks to return to power. The SAD-BJP government has dropped in popularity over the past five years. Issues like alleged corruption in government departments, apathy towards drugs and bootlegging, cross-border smuggling and movement, religious tensions over desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib and massive violence outbreak at the Golden temple are just some of the contributing causes.
Fair to say, governance is not an issue that the PM can take forward as the key poll promise as the citizens of Punjab already seem disillusioned with the SAD-BJP government. PM Modi’s bid to invoke national security seems to be an attempt to dispel the negative perception built over the past five years about the Akali-led government and reinvent the party’s image as one that will handle national security issues best as compared to its competitors Aam Aadmi Party, who only have experience of governing the national capital and no border state.
The PM seems to have taken this opportunity to remind people of the past year when the government took decisive action against terrorist forces on both sides of the Line of Control in Kashmir.
One of the saddest points was that he and the party are in denial of the starkly visible drugs situation in the state and instead accused opposition parties of defaming the state’s youth. “Rajneeti apni jagah hai, Punjab ke naujwanon ke bhavishya ko barbaad karne ka kaam mat karo. Par ye paap in logon ne kiya hai (Politics aside, do not destroy the future of youth of Punjab. But these people have committed this sin),” PM Modi said.
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It is another matter that the Gurdaspur and Pathankot air force base terrorist attacks in Punjab in 2016 took place under the BJP’s watch. Nonetheless, similar incidents have taken place on the watch of Congress as well, but this argument alone does not qualify BJP as the best candidate to rule Punjab.
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