Wages of insincerity to party ideologies
Political parties come to power on the back of certain promises that are at the core of their respective ideologies. But soon after electoral victories, they gain enough confidence to neglect their core thought, and also become greedy enough to eye the vote bank aligned to the rival’s ideology. That is what the Akalis did in their last tenure, and that is what the Congress may just be in the process of doing now. The Akalis are paying for it, the Congress may pay soon. AAP in Punjab, of course, has been on shifting sands right through, and is paying even before gaining anything.
The Akalis’, or rather the SAD’s, flip-flop is now well-documented. From being primarily a Sikh Panthic party, it brought in many non-Sikh faces, and subsequently even went on to woo Dera Sacha Sauda followers – and the latter, in particular, backfired. It tried to make amends by getting the ‘pardon’ granted to the dera chief revoked. In future, under pressure from the party ‘old guard’, the SAD may even increase the concentration of ‘Sikh faces’ among its leadership. Without going into the merits of whether a political party in a secular democracy should profess to represent a particular community, it is clear that the SAD under the Badals did not remain true to its Sikh core.
Perhaps that is what real politics in a democracy is. You cannot remain true to any ideology beyond a point. A party has to win, and for that it has to take in as many votes as it can, which in turn means taking in a diverse set of voters. The Congress over the years has perfected this art of pandering to every thought, depending on the circumstances of the moment even as it professes to have secularism at the core of its ideology. It has, in fact, also used secularism as a cover to turn communal, with prejudice to none but votes.
Capt Amarinder Singh, according to most political observers, snatched victory from AAP as the latter was seen by many as walking into the fold of Sikh extremist thought, therefore fetching Hindu votes for the Congress. After coming to power, he remained unable to pursue cases against the Badals as per the expectations of the popular sentiment. Desperate to make up for this ‘failure’ – and unable to resist the temptation of wooing the Sikh vote ahead of 2019 – he today stands accused of turning ‘Panthic’, which is a vague expression used for any effort to assuage the hurt or serve the aspirations of Sikhs.