Betrayal of Punjab’s Tryst With Destiny

'Tryst with destiny' phrase was used by Jawaharlal Nehru while giving a speech on the eve of India's independence. The same deal with destiny was made by the people of Punjab in March 2022.

Bhagwant Mann
File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann

‘Tryst with destiny’ is a popular English phrase which simply means to make a secret deal with something that is destined. This phrase was used by Jawaharlal Nehru while giving a speech on the eve of India’s independence. It means that several years ago, Indians had come together to fight against the British to achieve freedom.

The same deal with destiny was made by the people of Punjab in March 2022. Punjabis have been suffering a slow and gradual decline in the last 20 years. The erstwhile richest state of India and the bread basket of India has hit a new low in the economy.

From the status of the state with the highest per capita income which it proudly carried for decades, the per capita income status declined to 16th number and even slower economic growth rate than the growth rate of many of the so-called BIMARU and poor states of India.

The benefits of the Green Revolution in terms of high yield and production got saturated. Agriculture development is stagnant and is showing adverse impacts on soil and leading to desertification of Punjab. The state has not shown any viable investment in Industry for the last 20 years.

Neither could Punjab divert itself from agrarian-based industry to either service sector or core sectors of industry. It has been a victim of drug menace and gang wars. Its youth is migrating to the green pastures looking for economic opportunities abroad. So much so, that some of the villages in the Doaba-area are hardly left with any youth to take care of the elders.

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The Punjabis are an emotional clan. They are open-hearted, vibrant and trust easily. They felt all these ills plaguing Punjab and were desperate to come out of it. They thought that they should align with those who promised to save Punjab, Punjabiat and Punjabi culture from its decline.

They thought that they had made a tryst with destiny by giving a chance to a political phenomenon which gave them hopes, aspirations and dreams.

Dreams that Punjab will be Rangla Punjab (colourful) again, there will not be more youth succumbing to drugs, Punjabi youth will not have to leave their home to look for economic opportunities abroad and every Punjabi will feel safe and secure. They also made a tryst with destiny that Punjab will not see again those black days of the 1980s and 90s which took away the lives of many innocents and killed the economic prospects of Punjab.

Fed up with the traditional political parties and their alternative rules, Punjabis decided to vote for change. They wholeheartedly voted for AAP and 79 per cent of the total seats went to the party which was the highest ever for any political party in Punjab’s history.

All traditional political parties were decimated and six former chief ministers lost their seats. It was emotion-based voting where the Punjabis fell for an emotional trap of Sohna and Rangla Punjab. However, what Punjab has got by electing AAP has started to unravel in just 80 days of its rule.

As of today, the two biggest questions before each Punjabi are how to live in Punjab and why to live in Punjab? The first question of ‘how’ triggers the reasons and fears of a common Punjabi. Is it safe to live in Punjab? Are we not heading for those black days? Are my children safe? Do I or my children have a future in Punjab? Can I save my children from the culture of drug addiction?

The second question triggers in mind the question of whether I have economic opportunities in Punjab? Should I invest in Punjab and whether my investment in Punjab be safe? Is there a conducive environment for business? Whether the current freebie economy followed by the current regime will impact the economy of the state and thus my business also?  Whether the culture of gangsterism and gun culture will ever end? Whether I’m safe considering the deteriorating law and order? Whether the current government can be trusted?

These questions have started trickling into the minds of every conscious Punjabi. The Punjabis gave their emotional and full heart support to the AAP. It seems we as Punjabi have been emotionally stabbed by the AAP.

AAP has raised expectations of the people; people were emotionally entrapped and enticed by the promises of the party. They thought that they were going to change their destiny leaving behind a troubled legacy. A serious trust issue with the AAP government in Punjab and the party as a political alternative has emerged.

Imagine, the most famous singer of Punjab is killed in broad daylight in a Bollywood film style with the most coveted weapons which are not even easily available to the armies. And despite the fact that the city of Mansa where he was killed had just two exit routes and it takes four-five hours to cross the borders of Punjab, the killers are away from the clutches of law.

It indicates the naivety and inexperience of the AAP in handling the state administration, particularly law and order which is the prime condition for any other business or social activities. The law and order of the state have touched the nadir.

The anti-national and secessionist forces are fully active and have come out of their hibernation considering the soft paddling on nationalism and the soft corner of the AAP regime.

Corruption is in full swing. Even the ministers are asking for their cuts in each tender. The economy is in shambles. Farmers and peasants are aggrieved and are agitating. The debt is the highest ever and even to pay the interest, the state has to borrow.

The regime is resorting to populist freebies which are hitting the economy further. To divert the pressure of rising expectations which were fuelled by the AAP, diverting issues like Chandigarh Civil Services rules and old issues with Chandigarh is being raised. The ‘projection’ of the so-called ‘good government actions’ is backfiring.

How the simple yet ill-conceived administrative action of withdrawing the security from the VIPs was highlighted as an ‘achievement’ of the government and advertising that government funds led to the killing of Sidhu Moose Wala and exposing so many important persons is evident.

Punjab is in shambles. Punjabis are feeling cheated and betrayed. It is a betrayal of the tryst with destiny which was given to AAP with a trust that it will bring change.

(The author is an author and a political commentator. The views expressed in the article are his own and do not represent the official position of India Ahead News.)

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