Janata Darbars have caught the fancy of Punjab politicians these days.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, for instance, has started organising Sangat Darshan (Janata Darbar) in far-flung areas of the state to distribute funds and listen to the grievances of people.
These events, organised by the CM, however, haven't had smooth sailing, with controversies arising out of the fact that Congress workers and MLAs were not given access to them.
An interesting detail about his Janata Darbars was that they were also organised in the constituencies of opposition MLAs to woo the voters.
Taking a cue from him, Punjab Congress chief and former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh also launched 'Lokan Da Darbar'. Singh listened to the grievances of the people and told them to submit their complaints to his party workers, who in turn assured that they would be resolved as soon as the Congress formed its government in the state.
"Everybody knows what Badal does in his 'Sangat Darshan' programmes. He showers government funds on Akali Dal leaders. These programmes have become a way of wasting public money. People get no solution. I would assure them of a time-bound resolution by setting up a task force in the first 100 days of the Congress government," said Singh, who started his Janata Darbar from Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal's constituency Jalalabad.
CM Badal's reaction to the Captain's barbs was equally scathing. He compared his 'Lokan Da Darbars' to imperial darbars.
He also slammed Singh for imitating him and said that during his tenure as chief minister, the Captain never bothered to meet the people and was now doing a futile exercise to woo them.
"Captain (Amarinder) is a king who wants to attain power for enjoying it rather than serving the people. He is gifting false hope to the people as he indulges in self-glorification and bashes political rivals in his programmes. He goes into hibernation after assuming power. The voters of his constituency (Amritsar), where he rarely pays a visit, can tell the truth," said Badal senior.
The third politician who could not avoid the lure of Janata Darbars is AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal.
He has so far organised community-based meetings and rallies in the state to woo various sections of voters.
He has also asked people to accept money in case it is offered by rival parties and justified it by saying that it actually belongs to them.
|Arvind Kejriwal is yet another politician who could not avoid the lure of Janata Darbars.
The numerous Janata Darbars have resulted in a war of words between the Congress and the AAP.
The Punjab Congress Committee ridiculed Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for trying to imitate the Captain.
"At best, it was a monologue and at worst, it was character assassination of others," said Punjab Congress vice-president and Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh, adding: "It ended up more as a personal monologue than a public dialogue."
In comparison, he emphasised, "Captain Amarinder allows the public to speak and ask questions instead of making self-promotional monologues."
Citing massive support for the Captain, Rana alleged that Kejriwal had been trying to copy the Congress model but failed miserably on that front.
"Kejriwal, given his self-righteous arrogance, cannot listen to others or take questions from them," he observed.
The Punjab Congress vice-president maintained that the Delhi CM spent crores of rupees on the advertisement campaign ahead of his 'Talk to Kejriwal' programme, that virtually ended up in 'Listen to Kejriwal'.
Taking a dig at Kejriwal, he reminded how these advertisements were circulated more in Punjab papers than in Delhi, where he is and should be answerable to the public about what he has done during the past one-and-a-half years.
The AAP, in return, has accused the Captain of arm-twisting his party to fulfil his ambition to become chief minister.
AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira said a careful perusal of the Captain's political innings confirmed that he only believed in victory and could never play the role of an effective Opposition leader.
"After leading the Congress to a debacle in 2007 and 2012, the Captain went into wilful political exile and was unable to face the wrath of the current Badal government. His complete absence from the Vidhan Sabha as a legislator from Patiala (2007-14) and zero performance as deputy leader in the Lok Sabha from 2014 onwards, also substantiate our allegations that he is a non-performer, non-serious and a failed leader," said Khaira.
The AAP said the Captain has defended himself and family members in various corruption cases, by paying hefty fees to high-profile lawyers in the high court and the Supreme Court, but never bothered about the party workers who were facing as many as 50,000 cases.
"Amarinder Singh and his party will lose the 2017 assembly elections in Punjab like the two humiliating defeats in 2007 and 2012. But will he make a commitment to the people of Punjab that he will not run away from active politics and will perform his duty as an Opposition leader? Because, as stated earlier, the Captain is in the habit of cooling his heels either in cozy places of Himachal Pradesh, or safe overseas havens like Dubai and London, after his party suffers defeat," alleged Khaira.
Janata Darbars are an important way of attracting voters.
While the ruling Akali Dal openly uses these gatherings to influence people by offering on-the-spot "solutions", the AAP and Congress are feasting on those who return empty-handed from Badal's 'Sangat Darshans'.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)