Challenges galore for Manpreet's Sanjha Morcha

Challenges galore for Manpreet's Sanjha Morcha

Factionalism hits party in run-up to poll

Rebel scion of the Badal family, Manpreet Singh Badal’s People Party of Punjab (PPP)-led Sanjha Morcha till recently looked like it was shaping into a political game changer of sorts as a third alternative, appears fast floundering. The Morcha has the CPI, CPM and former Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala-led splinter Akali faction on board.

Its courtship with the newly formed alliances and some of the key players of the formation is rocked by a series of perpetual desertions.

The political arithmetic for this nascent front has gone terribly haywire ahead of Assembly elections less than two months away.

Hope to gather steam

Its talks with the BSP appear far from fructifying in an alliance. Punjab has 29 per cent of Schedule Caste population, the highest in the country. With the BSP now unlikely to forge an alliance with PPP or for that matter any other party in the state, the PPP-led Morcha’s last hope to gather steam is gasping for breath.

Unlike in Mayawati-ruled Uttar Pradesh, not many of Dalit votes in Punjab have translated into BSP MLA’s on the treasury benches in Punjab. But the BSP in Punjab manages around 6.3 per cent of vote share — a little less than the ruling saffron party in the state. That is why political parties have never underestimated its surging strength, rather they have viewed it as a formidable game changer.

No government repeated

No government in Punjab has ever been repeated. The Congress and the SAD-BJP alliance have dominated and monopolised the political landscape in this border state.
Manpreet Badal’ s alliance off late has been on a setback-suffering spree. The latest on the list of turncoats are two former MLA’s of SAD — Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon and Jagbir Singh Brar — both founder members of the PPP and once Manpreet’s trusted lieutenants.

The Sanjha’s alliance with former Tamil Nadu Governor S S Barnala-led SAD (Longowal) is also unlikely to survive long. There are indications of Barnala’s party merging with the Congress. Notwithstanding, Manpreet has managed to garner equal space in the media, the rebel nephew of the CM will now find it harder to fight for votes and for political survival.

The incessant bouts of setback that Manpreet has faced has pleased the Congress the most. The latest defectors have not just deserted Manpreet, they have also joined hands with the Congress.

They have also deserted Manpreet when he has to answer uncomfortable questions on nepotism and on money the PPP allegedly received from Punjabi NRIs. Both the Congress and the ruling Akali Dal have conveniently chosen to discount Manpreet Badal, a four-time MLA, who till last year was a cabinet minister in his uncle Parkash Singh Badal’s cabinet.

For the Congress, whatever little is left of the PPP will affect the Akali Dal since it will divide dedicated Akali voters, a Congress leader said. The Akali Dal rubbishes this, saying that the votes of the CPI and CPI (M) that are often bagged by the Congress are now well laid out for the PPP, which has the Left by its side. But all the parties in Punjab are vary of the BSP factor.

Leaderless party

The BSP, arguably, is a leaderless party in Punjab and has lived on the laurels of “brand Mayawati” in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in the country. Ironically, even as the BSP has managed to reign supreme in Uttar Pradesh, it struggles to make any noticeable headway in agrarian Punjab, despite the state being the home turf of BSP’s sacrosanct party and idol late Kanshi Ram.

Meanwhile, holding the fort strong, Manpreet Badal today refuted all charges of embezzlement of funds by him or his party. He said none of his blood relatives will contest elections in Punjab.

“I forgive the two party leaders who joined the Congress yesterday (Sunday). But the people of Punjab will not forgive this betrayal,” he said.

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