From ‘Kale Angrej’ to ‘joker’: Ugly ‘personal attacks’ in Punjab Assembly polls campaign

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Amritsar: Perhaps never had politics in Punjab ever witnessed such an ugly round of “vindictive and personal attacks” as those are being experienced now. The state goes to polls in the next two months and the political landscape is full of hatred and lower levels of verbal spats against each other.

The atmosphere heated up with former cricketer, comedian-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu initiating a worst-ever attack against his party’s own Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Soon after assuming the charge as President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, he called Captain `Jhhootha Raja (Lair King) and with blessings from the party’s high command in Delhi, he later engineered a coup that led to the unceremonious fall of the ‘Maharaja’.

Both resorted to the worst ever personal attacks as Captain called Sidhu a `jumping jack’ even `monkey without brain’ while Sidhu called him by all the names and even said Captain is `licking the feet’ of PM Narendra Modi. If Sidhu is to be blamed for vitiating the atmosphere, Aam Aadmi Party leaders including Bhagwant Mann and Arvind Kejriwal used filthy language against present Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi, Captain Amarinder and even Akali leaders.

Responding to Channi’s assertion against AAP leaders that they were ‘Kale Angrej‘, swooping down upon Punjab, they hit him below the belt saying if Channi was looking `matrimonial match’ for them as they were not ‘fair’.

This kind of language was never heard earlier in elections when the contest was largely two-polar but now the three or four polar electioneering is seeing the leaders pulling each other and washing their linen in public.

The Shiromani Akali Dal leaders including Sukhbir Badal have also called Sidhu a “joker whom no one takes seriously, not even his own party leaders”. Badal junior and other Akali leaders including Harsimrat Kaur Badal had been calling the AAP and Congress leaders as `looters’ and `Chor’ (thieves) who are bent upon “maligning the Punjabi blood”.

The worst came when Sidhu called firebrand Akali leader Bikram Singh Majithia as “smuggler whom he would beat in public with a baton”. After filing an FIR against Bikram Singh Majithia in an old drugs-related case, which is largely being viewed due to his personal enmity and ill will against him, Sidhu had been calling Bikram by all the bad names on political stages.

“I will pull him by hair and put him behind bars”, stated Sidhu against Majithia in one of the rallies. Bikram before going into hiding after the case was registered called Sidhu having “many fathers and mothers”. “There were times when Modi was his Daddy but now Sonia Gandhi is his Mummy. Who knows tomorrow whom he calls Mummy and Daddy”, had stated Majithia in many public speeches.

The political pundits are of the view that the burning issues of social importance are being sidelined in the rush to hit the rivals below the belts. The larger public issues of rising unemployment, virtually ruined economy, perishing health and education sector, flight of industries from Punjab to neighboring states, poverty are put on back burners while personal attacks are looming large ahead of polls.

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