The results of the Punjab Assembly elections will be historical, but the process will also be very entertaining.
The election rallies and voter outreach programmes are attracting big eyeballs due to the presence of comedians, singers, actors and sports personalities who joined mainstream political parties, including AAP, Congress, the Akali Dal and BJP.
While Navjot Singh Sidhu is spinning new oneliners to target the BJP, AAP and Akali Dal, comedian-turned-politician and AAP MP Bhagwant Mann's famous poem Kikli Kaleer Di -which openly targets the Badals - has become the hottest ingredient of AAP rallies.
Another comedian, Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi, who heads AAP in Punjab, uses his punches to entertain spectators and to target the Badals. Punjabi singer Sukhwinder Sukhi - who joined AAP as well - entertains people by singing his famous numbers during AAP rallies.
Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans, who has joined the third political party (BJP), is preparing to sing new political hymns to spice up the election scene.
Punjabi singer and former national-level hockey player Satwinder Bitti, who recently joined the Congress, will be another entertainer besides Sidhu to immerse people.
Entertainment apart, there are five major issues that will dominate the state election scene.
Dalit-related issues: Punjab has the highest number of Dalit voters in the country. Nearly 32 per cent of the electorate comprises Dalits who are being targeted by political parties in their own style. Atrocities on Dalits, besides jobs and land, are the three areas of concern for the community.
|Comedian-turned-politician and AAP MP Bhagwant Mann's famous poem Kikli Kaleer Di - which targets the Badals - has become the hottest ingredient of AAP rallies. (Photo: India Today)
While the Congress and Akali Dal are yet to open their cards, the AAP has announced a deputy chief minister's post for the community, besides the assurance to probe cases of atrocities.
Drug problem: While the ruling Akali Dal-BJP do not consider the state's drug problem as an election issue and accuse the AAP of maligning the state by raising the menace, AAP has already made the issue its poll plank.
An AIIMS report said drugs worth Rs 7,500 crore are traded every year in the state and 1.23 crore people who live in 10 districts use hard drugs like heroin. The state police has registered 14,483 FIRs against 16285 men, 783 women and 16 juveniles under the NDPS Act.
Law and order: The law and order situation has moved from bad to worse during the Akali Dal-BJP regime. Punjab has become a gangland. There are over 57 dreaded criminal gangs in the state and over 427 gangsters are active members of various gangs. There are over 500 jailed criminals lodged in various city jails. The Nabha (Patiala) jail break incident has further exposed the deplorable situation.
Unemployment: According to National Sample Survey Organisation, there are over 55 lakh jobless people in Punjab, of which 72 per cent are educated and 22 per cent are technically trained. The rate of unemployment in the state's rural areas, which forms most of its electorate, is 7.7 per cent. The Congress and AAP have announced jobs and unemployment allowance to woo young voters.
Farmer suicides: Farmer suicides have become commonplace in Punjab. Debt-ridden farmers are ending their lives after a series of crop failures. While the farmers owe Rs 69,355 crore to various banks and private lenders, the state government, with a debt of over Rs 1.25 crore, is not able to compensate them. Farmer suicides besides the state's empty coffers will be a major issue that will dominate the election scene.