- Every election is viewed with interest for a variety of reasons including the eventual outcome for the ruling dispensation wishing to strengthen its hold on the administration. If assembly by-polls are crucial for the states, the Lok Sabha by-polls are critical for the ruling dispensation at the center and the opposition parties wishing to further their numbers. You may be aware that there are intangible permutations and combinations alongside unfathomable political undercurrents running deep deciding the very existence of entities. Thus, the national, as well as the regional political parties, always place great emphasis vis-à-vis by-polls by striving to emerge victorious.
PC: Abhishek Hari
- The recently concluded by-polls to the Lok Sabha have thrown up a challenging result that should cause concerns to several in the know. Of course, the outcome of a single Lok Sabha by-poll is not usually enough for generalized conclusions. But the victory of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president SS Mann in Punjab’s Sangrur is unusual enough to be the exception. Mann, widely seen as a radical politician, defied odds to get past Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with 35.6% of the vote share. Remember, Sangrur is the home turf of Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Singh Mann, who won the seat in the last two Lok Sabha elections.
- Significantly, candidates of three parties that have long administered Punjab, SAD, Congress, and BJP, have lost their deposits. That is some result indeed. As reported, reasons for Mann’s victory include disenchantment with AAP setting in quickly. Now, why Mann’s victory is being accorded such importance in the first place. Let’s delve further to understand the same. It’s important to locate Mann’s victory in the backdrop of SAD’s freefall and the unsettled state Punjab seems to be in. SAD’s political evolution is entwined with that of Sikhism. A watershed moment came in 1996 when under Parkash Singh Badal’s leadership the party prioritized regional identity over religion. The reorientation helped SAD defang centrifugal forces in the state.
PC: ABHISHEK DEY
- Yes, that phase seems to have ended. In the March assembly elections, SAD finished third with 18.4% of the votes. In the Sangrur by-poll, SAD came fifth with 6.2% of the votes. Mind you, Punjab is a critical state bordering Pakistan on the western side as the security of the nation greatly hinges on the region. Defeated repeatedly after his LS victory in 1999, Mann this time had the support of slain singer Sidhu Moose Wala, whose posthumous song SYL was blocked on YouTube following the Union Government’s complaint about its contents. The song asked for sovereignty for Punjab and hailed a Khalistani militant.
- Plus, Mann’s Twitter profile says that he’s Sangrur’s MP and also that he’s striving for Khalistan. These signs are worrying and go against the tenet of the one nation theory long propagated by our leaders in no uncertain terms. Worryingly, Punjab’s economic situation is even more troubling as India’s main contributor to the PDS is struggling thereby portending further concerns about the state’s health. Therefore, any voices of dissent emerging amid the economic gloom are not welcome at all. Mainstream parties should worry about Mann’s victory for sure. The Union Government is bound to keep a vigilant eye on the outcome from now on.