23 April, 2021

Broom With A View Along Five Rivers

Weariness with a decade of SAD rule and ‘cashless’ anger against ally BJP makes the Punjab election a toss between grand old Congress and newbie AAP

Congress harps on its tried-and-tested credentials
Photograph by Prabhjot Singh Gill
Broom With A View Along Five Rivers

The massive crowd is perfec­tly still, rapt in attention. Bha­gwant Mann, Aam Aadmi ­Party’s Member of Parliament from Sangrur, is on stage. He is AAP’s most heavyweight campaigner for the Punjab ­assembly election, due on February 4. His ‘kikli’, or ditties, are a massive hit at rallies. When Mann sings, people in the audience turn on their mobile phone torches, making scores of pale lights glow in the twilight.

Those gathered for Mann in this Jalalabad rally have heard his kikli bef­ore. So many times, in fact, that they rem­ember it. “Kikli? (This song?)” Mann booms into his microphone and the audience shouts back, “Kalir di (It’s about a girl).” “Gaap? (Lies?)” Mann croons and the crowd responds, “Sukhbir di (They come from Sukhbir Badal).” “Smack?” he asks and they respond: “Order it from the border.”

The audience grasps Mann’s message, which is about holding Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikramjit Majithia res­ponsible for...

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