Returning to India within two years was an interesting experience. The brand new Delhi international airport gives the visitor an excellent impression about the capital city of the largest democracy in the world. The immigration and customs were a breeze through. The warm air outside was a welcome change from the colder weather in Vancouver and London.
The journey from the airport to my hometown Pharwala(near Nurmahal) in Jalandhar district, Punjab was a long one. It took us more than eight hours to traverse the National Highway 1 ,also known as the GT Road . The government must be commended for making this well used highway as fast and efficient as possible. Consequently, there is lot of construction going on for a large part of the highway.Once complete, it should make travel to the northern states much faster and easier.
A trip to India won’t be complete unless one tastes the delicious food and drinks available at the dhabas lining the highway.
Finally, we arrived in my hometown late in the evening. After the formalities and pleasantries the talk turned to the state election. The two leading parties-Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress- are vying for the choice of voters. Both Captain Amarinder Singh of the Congress and Parkash Singh Badal of the Akali Dal have been campaigning very hard. Both parties are claiming that they will win at least 70 of the 117 seats at stake in the provincial legislature. Various political polls are favouring one party or the other. Also, Manpreet Badal’s Punjab Peoples Party is considered to be a wild card in this election. The big question is as to how many seats will the PPP win and also which of the leading parties it will hurt the most..
Both of these main parties have their pluses and minuses. The Akali Dal has done a lot for the farmers . As such, most of the farmers seem to favour it. However, this party is perceived to be weak on law and order. On the other hand, some people feel it is time for change and Congress is considered to be their party of choice. Congress seems to be less favourable with the farming community which makes up a bulk of the voting block. Also, the corruption scandals at the centre seem to have some impact on the voters. Regardless, it is hard to predict as to who will be declared the winner on March 6.
The Election Commission has made a major difference in this election. Anywhere you go there are are police officials checking the vehicles. Cash and liquor are their main concerns. It has been reported in the media that already police have seized over 500,000 bottles of local brew in 34 days.
Police seized 7,000 cases of liquor belonging to one candidate in a single day recently. On top of that the usual hustle and bustle of an election campaign have been rather muted. The Election Commission must be commended for making this election as fair and clean as possible.
As usual, both main parties have brought out their big guns to campaign on their behalf. This includes the Congress leadership as well as the BJP and Akali Dal leadership. On top of that various well known actors and singers have been actively campaigning on behalf of their candidates and parties. Now that the campaigning and voting are over, everyone is anxiously waiting for the results on March 6.
LINK Columnist Balwant Sanghera, a local activist a former teacher and Order of BC winner, is currently on a visit to Punjab and will be filing reports whenever he has time from his busy travel schedule.