Amritsar: As the poll dates draw closer in Punjab, the voter expectation of the next government and the issues that they wish for it to tackle is gaining strength. In Amritsar’s Golden Temple area, locals are divided on the development and are keen to choose a party that will bring about the desired change. Having tried out the major national as well as regional political parties in the past, they think that this time they should give a chance to the new entrant — Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Speaking to the New Indian, Gurmeet Singh, a local shopkeeper, shares that though development has taken place in the past, more is required to be done in order to increase the income in tourism dependent business. “Chances are strong for AAP this time, as the poor got poorer and the rich got richer under the previous governments,” he said.
His remarks are a reflection of the impressions formed by aggressive campaigns by AAP in the state. The AAP National Convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is going all out to woo the business community ahead of the upcoming elections. His contention that his party respects businessmen as it doesn’t threaten them like other parties seems to be garnering trust of the trader community.
Business in this area has not been the same since Covid struck. “Tourism and related traffic has been badly hit as international flights are closed. Things should open up now so that tourism grows,” said Gurmeet Singh.
Not that he is disappointed with the performance of the previous governments (Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal), “but we feel that the new party should get a chance this time,” he said.
Echoing his views, Surendra Pal Singh, who also owns a shoe shop near Amritsar Golden Temple, said: “Whichever government comes to power must work for people. No doubt Congress has worked for the people, but BJP has let us down with its stance on the farmers. They brought the black laws (three farm laws).”
Stressing on rampant corruption in the state, he shared: “There is a lot of corruption in the government, so we feel that AAP should get a chance this year in elections.”
He too wants the government to ease travel restrictions, so the tourist flow can surge, bringing in more business. “Unlike those in government or private jobs, who have been getting their salaries, we are dependent on business from our shops — which is down these days,” he lamented.
“It appears there will be a good fight between all the parties,” said Balvinder Singh, another shopkeeper who owns the Punjabi cloth store near the Golden Temple premises. “ In my view, there hasn’t been much development in the area.”
Pointing at the rampant drug menace being a cause of big concern for the people of the state, he said that the governments must work to eradicate the drug menace so that the youth can be saved.
“Also, like in Delhi, we would like Arvind Kejriwal to work on women safety so they feel safe. Here in Punjab, no one listens to them,” he said with reference to the behavior of the local police towards the complainant.
Rising unemployment is another big issue. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised that our demands will be accepted (while repealing three farm laws), but most remain unfulfilled. So we want that people being voted to power must work for change in Punjab,” he added.
Voting for the 117 member assembly will go to polls on February 20, while counting of votes will take place on March 10.
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