Compared to the manner in which issues within the Uttarakhand BJP were swiftly resolved, even if it meant some temporary embarrassment, the problems within the Congress continue unabated nationwide. In the case of Punjab, this failure can have serious security problems because there are more than one organisations willing to take advantage of political instability. Punjab paid a heavy price for similar confusion in the past and there are several indications that troublemakers are preparing to reactivate their agendas.
It comes as a surprise that the Congress High Command finds it hard to support the one person who not only brought the party back to power against the then formidable SAD-BJP combine, but also has had the acumen to deftly walk the tightrope between Sikh politics and nationalism – Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. One needs only to see the outlandish populism of the ‘challenger’ Navjot Singh Sidhu to understand the dangerous compromises that could be made with the wrong elements. Adding fuel to the fire is the populism of AAP that seems to have struck a chord in some parts of the state. Its politics overlooks the experience of the past and the mistakes that ought not to be repeated.
India cannot afford to have problems in Punjab at a time when the situation in Afghanistan is spiraling out of control, and new security threats are developing within, such as in West Bengal. This is why, with all the daily dose of petty politics that seems to be the forte of Rahul Gandhi, some heed should be paid to the larger picture. The necessary maturity required to run a ‘national’ party seems entirely missing even among the experienced (though diminishing) lot that serve as courtiers to the first family. Which is why Captain Amarinder Singh’s ability to make the necessary distinctions requires absolute support; in fact, he should be amongst the senior generals of the party at the national level.
If things continue as at present, the nation must brace itself for trouble in Punjab. A fractured mandate in the soon to be held elections, mixed with the ongoing farmers’ agitation, which has given space to anarchic groups and shown little regard for the law, would be the ideal mix for the return of terrorism. Punjab has suffered a lot economically and culturally in the past, drastically lowering its development indices. It cannot afford a repeat of the inglorious past.