Among the many firsts of the 15th Punjab assembly is also Captain Amarinder Singh’s attending all the four days of the session after remaining out of power for 10 years. The new chief minister of Punjab had invited criticism for missing entire sessions of the Punjab assembly as an opposition MLA and later the Parliament as Amritsar MP and deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
On Wednesday, Amarinder even sat through the 45-minute-long adjournment motion after the obituary references, hearing out his party MLAs. Having led a year-long election campaign after he was named the Punjab Congress chief in November 2015, Amarinder is now used to the grind. Before that too, he was on the road holding parallel rallies, seeking ouster of his predecessor Partap Singh Bajwa.
A fortnight in power, Amarinder has realised that tall poll promises also bring along controversies. While he was able to gloss over the first controversy of cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu’s working in a comedy show by bailing Sidhu out through his advocate general, some other controversies have left the government red-faced. The order of transport department to allow red beacons that triggered a social media frenzy, being the latest.
The CM on Wednesday visited the Press gallery in the assembly to reach out to the media. He rubbished news reports that said farmers were being issued possession notices for their mortgaged land, advised the media against carrying “conflicting versions” and asked them to quote his media adviser. Only a day before, after the governor’s address, Amarinder had told some mediapersons, he would be “accessible” to only those who report favourably.
Amarinder the CM is very different from Amarinder the Punjab Congress chief before the polls. But to his credit, then and now, he took all the questions from the media on Wednesday and asked them to give his government some time to settle in. As he tries to walk the tall talk on drugs, farm debt and ending VIP culture, Amarinder may be right in asking the media for a “honeymoon period”. But perhaps he forgets, media is as much a voice of the government as the opposition, both within the government and outside it.