CHANDIGARH: While the Congress in Punjab continues to be overshadowed by inertia resulting from debilitating suspense over leadership and the Sanjha Morcha is trying to find its moorings, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is all set to trigger social engineering to mobilise support in the non-traditional areas in the run up to the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections which in the party’s assessment might be held earlier than scheduled.
On the surface it might look innocuous but the decision of the Punjab Brahmin Sabha to stage a march to be known as Shobha Yatra from Bathinda district to Delhi via Anandpur Sahib with the involvement of the Akali Dal is an indication of the strategy and tactics being put into operation by the ruling dispensation.
It may be mentioned that the decision of Shiromani Akali Dal to put up non-Sikh candidates even in some areas considered to be the Akali stronghold had paid off in the last Assembly elections. It seems that the same experiment of being carried forward.
The Shobha Yatra has been planned by the Brahim Sabha to commemorate the supreme sacrifice made by Guru Tegh Bahadur for the rights of the Brahmins and would start from Maiserkhana in Bathinda district on November 22 and would reach Anandpur Sahib via Barnala, Dhuri, Malerkotla, Ludhiana, Nawanshahar and Garhshankar the same evening.
Significantly, the Yatra would be flagged off by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Shiromani Akali Dal chief and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. It would start from Anandpur Sahib for Delhi the next day where Guru Tegh Bahadur was martyred.
Maiserkhana is known for a Hindu shrine having a large following. Badal has always tried to put up a moderate face and he is the one Akali Dal who enjoys acceptability among all sections of Punjabi society. Now the ruling party is not taking any chance as each and every seat would be crucial in the Lok Sabha elections.
In its second term, the Badal government is facing strong anti-incumbency presently due to some issues that directly concern the people that includes skyrocketing process of sand and gravel and deteriorating law and order situation, besides rampant corruption. None in the ruling party now talks of administrative reforms.
The social engineering by the Akali Dal has to be seen in this background. Badal Senior is known for keeping his support base involved in one programme or the other, whether in power or out of power and this is his major strength. Now the party is already targeting non-traditional support base.