Punjab politics takes a backseat in NDA show of strength
The National Democratic Alliance's show of strength in this industrial city of Punjab may have sent a strong message of unity in its ranks but Punjab's own politics took a backseat at the huge election rally.india Updated: May 10, 2009 20:06 IST
The National Democratic Alliance's (NDA) show of strength in this industrial city of Punjab may have sent a strong message of unity in its ranks but Punjab's own politics took a backseat at the huge election rally.
Except for the occasional mention of Punjab and its contribution in helping the country tackle food and security issues, the "success" of the rally for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led NDA was more at driving home the point that all partners were in place in the run-up to the results of the 2009 general elections.
The BJP's prime ministerial candidate L.K. Advani went on to describe the rally as a "historic" event which was the "biggest one in the 11 years of NDA".
The rally was hosted by the BJP's Punjab alliance partner, Akali Dal.
Advani and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj dwelt on the "disintegrated UPA" (the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) pointing out that while very few allies, like the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) in Orissa, had left the NDA fold and five new parties had joined it, practically all allies of the UPA were contesting this election on their own and against the Congress.
The NDA's show of strength rally was organised at the last minute. Originally, the rally was to be an Akali-BJP event for the Akali candidate from Ludhiana parliamentary constituency, G.S. Galib, and Fatehgarh Sahib candidate Charanjit Singh Atwal.
Even Advani acknowledged that the event was planned "at a very short notice of five-six days".
Incidentally, Galib, who was a Congressman for nearly five decades before he joined the Akali Dal recently, hardly had the spotlight on him.
For that matter, all the nine seats in Punjab that go to polls Wednesday were hardly the issue for the NDA leaders though some of them did ask people to vote for the NDA.
Prominent leaders in the fray for Wednesday's election are cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu (Amritsar, BJP), actor Vinod Khanna (Gurdaspur, BJP), singer Hans Raj Hans (Jalandhar, Akali Dal), Congress national spokesman Manish Tewari (Ludhiana, Congress) and Deputy Speaker of the outgoing Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal (Fatehgarh Sahib, Akali Dal).
Hogging the limelight at the rally was Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader Nitish Kumar, whose presence at the rally itself set to rest speculations that he was quitting the NDA fold.
Nitish Kumar's sharing the stage with BJP strongman and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, a thing the Bihar chief minister had recently said he would never do, too was a high-point of the event.
They not only shared the stage but clasped their hands to greet people.
Another highlight of the show here was the arrival of Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) chief K. Chandrashekhar Rao and his party's joining the NDA fold. The TRS, which was originally with the UPA, recently joined hands with the Left parties-led Third front.
But the 'unity' show left the BJP and its top leadership quite satisfied.