Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta
Last Updated: March 17, 2023, 00:05 IST
Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann. File pic/PTI
Bhagwant Mann’s 10-minute address, on completion of one year since he took oath as the Punjab CM, was completely dominated by the anti-corruption drive that the AAP government, he claimed, had launched to target top politicians and bureaucrats accused of indulging in malfeasance
In his address on completing one year in power, Punjab chief minister Bhagwant Mann seems to have avoided a face-off with the opposition over the law and order issue and instead picked up his government’s “anti-corruption” ammunition to counter the narrative of his opponents that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) wasn’t able to handle the security affairs of the border state.
The 10-minute address, on the completion of one year since he took oath as the CM, was completely dominated by the anti-corruption drive that the AAP government, he claimed, had launched to target top politicians and bureaucrats accused of indulging in malfeasance. “We have set an example by not sparing the elected MLAs and even ministers of our own party. Many leaders of the opposition went behind bars. The corrupt officials are also under the scanner. Our party led by Arvind Kejriwal was born from an anti-corruption movement and we are living up to the people’s expectations,” said Mann.
The strategy, according to sources, was clear and subtle. Use the corruption plank to dent opposition charges on law and order issues. “Both the Congress and the Akali Dal were routed because of the allegations of corruption. AAP was born on the anti-corruption plank and what is the best way to counter the opposition narrative than fishing out details on how we haven’t even spared the high and mighty,” said a senior party leader.
The Mann government has repeatedly come under fire from the opposition over its handling of law and order issues in the state. Be it the killing of prominent singer and Congress leader Sidhu Moose Wala or the recent emergence of controversial Khalistan sympathiser Amritpal Singh, the opposition has been targeting the AAP government over its allegedly inept law enforcement. On the ground, AAP feels that the continued playing out of the issue was allowing the opposition to win the “perception war” over the issue and that the party had to come out with something to dent it.
“Corruption is something that has hit the people of Punjab hard and the AAP government realises how important it is,” commented a leader from Malwa.
The opposition termed Mann’s address as an attempt to divert from the main issue of deteriorating law and order. “The CM has remained quiet on everything that has disturbed the law and order of the state. Why is there no action on Amritpal, why are the law enforcement agencies quiet about the Ajnala incident?” asked leader of the opposition Partap Singh Bajwa.
He said that by sponsoring interviews of those jailed and accused of murder, the state government cannot brush away its responsibility. “Blaming the previous Congress government and not accepting their own failure is something that this government has mastered,” said Bajwa.
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