Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Swords, Daggers and Punjabi Politics

A friend of mine, a local Seattle resident who recently relocated to India, is involved in the national elections there. While the western press typically presents Indian elections as a relatively pastoral exercise in democratic self governance, here are some snippets from our recent back and forth via email that show otherwise.

Friend:

Hope you are well. It's been a while since we chatted. I just came back from a short campaigning trip to Chandigarh last week. The Punjab elections are still going on (voting is the day after tomorrow).

Me:

Wow, campaigning in Punjab sounds exciting or scary and probably hot.

Friend:

Scary is an understatement. One of my friends, a really good guy, a professional, educated lawyer in the Supreme Court, who is contesting from one of the parliamentary constituencies there got attacked, his mother got beaten, his local president of the Congress party and his colleagues got stabbed with daggers and swords and are admitted in hospital. All by the Akali Dal guys ... they are out of control! We're asking for central police force for additional protection on polling day.

Me:

Unbelievable. Sorry to hear about your friends. Yeah, politics in Punjab can definitely be crazy. I think people haven't forgiven the Congress party for the 84 riots and subsequent total lack of punishment. Reasonable people mostly don't get involved in politics there, and when they do, they can wind up in the hospital or worse.

Friend:

Actually it's not at all because of the 84 riots. Initially I used to think the same. It's amazing how some politicians use random issues to create rifts between common people, most of who are regular people who want peace and jobs and agriculture.

More on the incident at Punjab Newsline in this article titled Prime Minister concerned about violence in Ludhiana.

1 comment:

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