Hours before Prime Minister Narendra Modi virtually sounded the Uttar Pradesh election bugle in Allahabad on Monday, Congress vice-president set the tone of the upcoming Punjab polls in his anti-drugs rally at Jalandhar.
Close on the heels of the Udta Punjab controversy with the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accusing Punjab’s ruling BJP-Shiromani Akali Dali (SAD) of influencing the censor board’s decision, Gandhi on Monday accused the ruling leadership of not wanting to end the drug menace in the border state because it was “benefiting them hugely”.
He didn’t stop there.
In what sounded like a perfect poll pitch, the Congress VP added that if elected to power, his party will wipe out the drug problem “within a month” by putting upright police officers at the helm of affairs. Besides this, he said it will also enact a law to sell the properties of drug peddlers and distribute the funds raised among affected people.
Gandhi’s speech makes it clear he wants to put the long-standing drug issue in the core of his Punjab campaign. The election in Punjab, along with Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand are due in early 2017.
But Gandhi, possibly wary of the BJP’s powerful campaign machinery, wants to hit the ground early to pick up the first mover’s advantage.
Gandhi, who only tweets about social and political issues, recently made a departure and tweeted in support of Anurag Kashyap’s Udta Punjab and slammed the government. He tweeted that censorship of films is not a solution to solve the drug problem in Punjab.
Gandhi, according to his party colleagues, understands that just like prohibition, the drug menace is a major social issue in Punjab and a political party willing to address the problem can also gain electoral benefits.
In attacking the Akali Dal while talking about the Punjab’s drug menace, Gandhi tried to kill two birds with one stone. Labelling the ruling party as the villain in the state’s biggest social problem, that affects thousands of youth, is also the best weapon as on date against the Akalis who are in power for last nine years in Punjab.