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Manpreet Badal gives state politics a new direction

Chitleen K Sethi, Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 15. If the winds of change ever blew in Punjab, it would be riding on the colour saffron. Manpreet’s show of strength in Amritsar yesterday made it clear that the former Finance Minister had not just dented the SAD vote bank across Punjab, but also introduced a paradigm shift in how politics is conducted in the state.

The colour of sacrifice chosen by Manpreet for the “second freedom movement” and his clarion call to end an era of corruption, poverty and separatism to his supporters took back onlookers to the politics in the Gandhian times.

To begin with, Manpreet did not promise the moon to his supporters, if anything he warned them of difficulties ahead. Then he refused to succumb to the easy vote-gathering slogan of “panth khatre vich” (there is a danger to the panth), which has been for years used by politicians whenever it was felt that religion could be misused to draw support.

The crowds he managed to pull was yet another lesson for a whole tribe of politicians that it is possible to be “popular” while remaining simple and down-to-earth.

Declaring a Utopian agenda for Punjab, Manpreet expects the three political parties in the state to respond to his programme or at least push up by several notches the level of political discussion in the state. With this agenda in place, he is bound to catch the fancy of the state’s intelligentsia.

On the flip side, however, while mooting a blueprint for cleaning up politics and administration and strengthening the state’s economy, Manpreet has also set for himself and his group exacting standards of functioning. There is now a real danger of Manpreet’s agenda becoming his own worst trap.

Though Manpreet has the image of a “clean” politician himself, in the coming days, the former Finance Minister is likely to face a fair amount of criticism and allegations against those who support him.

The first reaction given out by SAD general secretary Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal today points towards what lies ahead for Manpreet and his group.

Grewal takes a dig at the principle advocated by Manpreet of not including blood relative in the ministry by pointing out that whatever Manpreet has achieved in politics since 1995 was only because of relationship with Parkash Singh Badal and Manpreet himself has admitted this at every public rally.

“While condemning dynastic politics, Manpreet should come out publicly that how he pressurised for Jalandhar Cantonement ticket to his cousin Jagbir Singh Brar,” challenged Grewal.

He added that Manpreet while posing to launch a fight against corruption should come out clear on the corruption charges against his associate MLAs Manjinder Singh Kang and Charanjit Singh Channi.

Source: http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20101116/punjab.htm#4

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