History never repeats itself, the present walks us to an unknown land, about which we can only predict, as if walking backwards towards the future, with our eyes set upon the past, being in the present as it passes by. We don’t know what tomorrow is, but we have learnt from our freedom struggle, led by leadership of the Congress party that we can attempt to be its architects. They wrote our Constitution embedding our nation into democratic principles, assured every individual’s fundamental rights, assured social protection to the weakest, organised political and judicial institutions to build a free nation at a time of war and chaos when freedoms across the world were not to be taken for granted, but in their idea of India, we could. A parallel with most nations beginning early 20th Century, will put others to shame through success of our evolving political economy in pursuit of social justice for all but they also taught us not to compare, only to learn and respect. Today, as we enter a dark period of our democracy, we must learn from the truths of our past, from those who had nothing but the idea of free, empowered and secular India in their hearts as they sat in contemplation at Sevagram, Wardha to begin the Quit India movement in 1942.
My Name is Smit Singh, I am 31 years old. Last week, I lost the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Elections from AmargarhVidhan Sabha constituency. In 24 days I had as a candidate, I went to each village and ward of the constituency, taking my years of honest work for Punjab to the People but many of them did not decide to vote for me as a wave of change swept Punjab, the wave hit many harder than I, but seemingly only a temporary jolt in our glorious history. I have represented India in over 40 countries as an International Athlete for Indian National Shooting team, winning seven medals before I took this plunge into politics, have worked in NGOs and social movements across many states of India, but nothing in my life has made me even a quarter as proud as I was being an Indian National Congress candidate. This time, I was not fighting for my national flag as an athlete, but as a candidate of Congress I was fighting for something much deeper. The India I love and treasure and had to fight to preserve before any national symbol, as only a living sovereign, socialist, democratic, secular Republic would give any symbol of our nation its meaning. To that dream of freedom struggle I belong. Today, it is under threat from Hindutva forces, from their puppets in the AamAadmi Party, and my duty to the dream of India is clear. I am ready to walk backwards into the darkest valley of all, knowing what I fight for is nothing but my own truth and Justice for all.
I wish to humbly share with my Congress family that even though many big names may walk away from us, but in every district of India, minimum of a thousand Congress workers await us, await our message, our direction, they await to be given respect, to be heard, for us to fight back for our ideology. Don’t worry which leader may walk away, Congress is there on the ground. Need for our ideological struggle, to fight for the poorest and weakest is high today, Let’s just fight that fight. The local AAP MLA, who won against me is a multi-millionaire, has contested from his fourth political party in 2022, many say he bought his way through in each party before finally winning this time. His company had a 500 Crore Non-Performing Asset, that Modi Government has waived off with a meagre payment as it does with many corporate loans but the same Government will not waive-off any Farm Loan or labour loan, but the UPA Government (2004-2014) waived over 70,000 crore of Farm Loan and the Punjab Congress Government (2017-2022) waived nearly 8,000 crore of Farm and Farm-Labour loan in past 5 years. Our workers await this message to resonate along with our fight against this corporate rule. My father has been a two-time MLA, with his last term ending 20 years ago in 2002. He lives in a village and does farming in the same land and house he owned before his political career started, has built nothing financially of his political career. Our family is known for our honesty and work, then who is the real AamAadmi? We must keep standing up and speak this truth in the face of power. In 2011 as student in Delhi, I was energised by the Anna Hazare movement, until close observation taught me that AAP is just another frontal organisation of the Sangh Parivar. If we are active, observe and are present to speak and campaign against them, wave will be in our favour in no time. This is our battle against all odds and all we have to do is be ourselves, stand by our ideology, our truth on the ground among the people.
Many AAP MLAs are into illicit businesses. Majority have criminal cases registered against them. Many are turncoats. Their revolution is a farce. I am waiting for AAP Government to fulfil their promises to the people of Punjab. I shall wait for AAP to give 1000 rupees to all women per month. I shall wait for AAP to cancel the unjust Power Purchase Agreements signed by the SAD-BJP Govt, to carry forward nearly 15,000 crore of electricity power subsidy Congress Government was providing unlike Delhi’s much talked about 1200 crore power subsidy. I shall wait to see how they earn those 30,000crores from sand mining as they promised during elections because I know state revenue from Sand by all means and measures cannot be more than 2000 Crores. I am waiting to see who writes their Excise and VAT policy on Liquor trade in the State, hoping it is not a private liquor cartel which has now monopolized Delhi’s liquor trade. Our workers are waiting, to question, to fight as all of us watch 2.5 crores spent on swearing of the Aam Admi CM Bhagwant Mann and official State transport buses being used to ferry thousands of people for the ceremony, that could be easily done at the Governor’s residence for free. Since Punjab is under a debt of over 3 lakh Crores, we are waiting for them to fill the state coffers and spend on public good as promised.
People voted for change and now AAP is in power, all we have to do is keep them accountable. To just to be on ground, among our people, and they will be no match for party that gave India its freedom and its Constitution. The party that built foundations of our democracy and social justice. Congress party built institutions of education and healthcare mapped across India’s geography when less than 5% of India could access basic education and healthcare facilities, brought green revolution to make India food sufficient and secure, guaranteed MSP and initiated Government procurement of crops building APMC markets, usurped in the era of liberalisation to allow businesses to flourish, and did everything for welfare of the last person in the queue, brought in Right to Education, Right to Information, gave Food security to 67% poorest Indians, and so much more. Congress and its leadership have kept foundations of our democracy and secularism alive. We don’t have to answer to the world, just to our heart, choose between right and wrong for ourselves, whether we stand by the idea of India of our Constitution and freedom struggle or not. History teaches us, even one of us is enough, does not have to be special, an ordinary one standing by the truth is enough, rather victory shall be around the corner. They say, by the time truth wears its shoes, the lie has walked around the town, it has, but today in Punjab, the truth is ready to begin its walk again. Congress workers and leadership are wise and would have better explanation and preparation plans for future. I look towards them, seeking to work under their leadership, a day at a time, to protect the dream of India we hold so close to our hearts. The future defers from history as we don’t know its outcome, but we who observe the truth of today’s India, do know that we must fight to preserve the social fabric of India embedded in our Constitution. When losing in the fight for truth, failure is only an opportunity for us to go back to our basics, to each booth, village and ward with the true idea of India.
The author is a candidate from Amargarh constituency in the 2022 Punjab Assembly elections