Why NRIs like me are not siding with AAP in Punjab

Bob Hundal
Bob HundalJan 22, 2017 | 22:08

Why NRIs like me are not siding with AAP in Punjab

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), in recent times, has been blowing its trumpet on the so-called "overwhelming" NRI support it has supposedly received - something many media houses have dubbed as "unprecedented".

It has claimed that NRI support is its "main asset", just as PPP had in the previous polls. However, if one separates the wheat from the chaff - one would realise that AAP’s tall claims are nothing but hyped propaganda to hide its lack of ground-level support among Punjabis.

So are NRIs not campaigning in Punjab?

Of course they are as they always have. Punjabi NRIs are the most politically active among the Indian diaspora - they follow political developments closely and actively participate in the elections.

Is the angst against the SAD-BJP combine turning into a sea of support for AAP? No.

It is also true that the Punjabi NRIs are fed up with SAD-BJP government, which pushed Punjab into lawlessness, unparalleled corruption, uncontrolled drug trade and breakdown of the Punjabi cultural fabric.

But is this angst against the SAD-BJP combine turning into a sea of support for AAP? No.

Just like many in Punjab are pinning their hopes on Captain Amarinder Singh and the Congress to bring back the heydays of the state, Punjabi NRIs too are reflecting a similar mood and visiting Punjab to amplify it.

I arrived in Punjab early January with more than 210 friends to campaign for Captain Amarinder Singh and have been criss-crossing through the "pinds" of Punjab.

Our campaign has focused on one thing - fighting for Punjab - fighting with Captain for Punjab. Since then, many of my fellow NRI friends have joined us and continue to do so on a daily basis.

It’s something we do wholeheartedly for our state without seeking out publicity or engage in photo-ops to promote our arrival with pomp and show.

During my visit to Gurdaspur, the villagers told me that the initial euphoria for AAP has waned, as they have realised that the party has no agenda for Punjab and is taking Punjabis for granted.

Dismissing Kejriwal’s claim for making Punjab drug-free, Baldev Singh, a villager we met in Gurdaspur, said “Kejriwal ki Punjab nu nasha mukt karega, uddhe khud de bandi hi nashedi hun? (How can we expect that a party whose own leaders consume alcohol will root out drugs from the state?)”

Similarly, poking holes in Kejriwal’s promise for farm debt-waiver, Singh said, unlike Congress, which has promised unconditional loan waiver, AAP is trying to fool Punjab with a conditional loan waiver.

Captain Sab ne pehlan vi kisanan da karza muaf kitta si, sannu unha toh hi ummeed hai (Captain Amarinder Singh had waived off our debts before, he is our only hope)”, he said. 

Many NRIs from Punjab like me have settled in foreign countries for decades now. A good percentage of us belong to Congress families, and many have been affiliated with it since the time of freedom struggle.

It is but natural that we are here in Punjab for the battle.

AAP’s mounting corruption scandals, ticket selling to turncoats and Kejriwal's doublespeak have disappointed its ardent supporters in India itself. And to assume that NRIs will stand by a hypocritical, non-Punjabi opportunist is absurd and demeaning to say the least.

Last updated: January 22, 2017 | 22:08
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