Punjab is slated to go to assembly polls in 2022. And Congress government under Captain Amarinder Singh is already facing issue of dissent within the party with former cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu making frequent jibes at the government. It is not the Sidhu criticism which is damaging the party only .
The g0overnment has now come under severe backlash for “diverting” Covid vaccines to private hospitals at “hefty margins” at a time when the country is battling the second wave of COVID-19 and there are reports of vaccine shortage. Under fire the Punjab government withdrew its order that allowed “one-time limited vaccine doses to 18-44 age group population through private hospitals”.
Having failed to open account in Recently concluded polls in West Bengal , unable to oust the Left in Kerala, lost power in Puducherry , failed to replace the BJP in Assam and just about managing to save some face thanks to alliance with DMK in Tamil Nadu, the last thing that Congress needs now is to lose Punjab next year. There is still time though but the rumblings within the party are not good signs either.
It must be noted that it was inner discontent in the Congress that saw the exit of now late Congress stalwart Tarun Gogoi ( Chief Minister of Assam from 2001 – 2016) . Himanta Biswa Sarma now Chief Minister of BJP fell out with the Congress and Tarun Gogoi and rest is history. Who Knows this Sidhu rebellion might haunt the party in the long run if not reigned in ?
The Congress had lost Madhya Pradesh to the BJP even after winning the polls in 2018 . The Kamal Nath led government collapsed after two years – on 20 March 2020 due to lack of majority in the assembly. Adding to the woes was Jyotiraditya Scindia joining the BJP and becoming a Rajya Sabha MP and 21 MLA’s his loyalists also joined the saffron party thus paving the way for Shivraj Singh Chouhan to become Chief Minister all over again.
If Punjab too goes the Madhya Pradesh and Assam way, then for the grand old party to challenge the BJP in 2024 will be herculean task. After all India needs a national party with all India presence to take on BJP nationally. A weak Congress gives BJP with all the criticism the advantage .
So , for the future of Congress, Punjab has to be retained and dissent controlled . The party cannot afford to let it drift. Rahul Gandhi’s clarion call to replace the Modi government will fall flat if the party does not get its own house in order and hold on to states where they have been voted to power.