Amarinder Singh has risen to the occasion in this crisis. Even in the past he has taken a stand on key issues, even if it meant going against the Centre or his own party. For instance he resigned from the Congress after Operation Bluestar in 1984 and took on the UPA government on the Sutlej Yamuna Canal issue in 2004-05.
This crisis may have helped Captain overcome the discontent against his regime, especially after corruption allegations against his ministers. Even when this becomes a legal confrontation with the Centre, Amarinder Singh is likely to continue steering this battle. However, he continues to face dissension from within the Congress
The Shiromani Akali Dal initially supported the Centre’s ordinances, but had to withdraw from the NDA following widespread protests in Punjab. Since then, it has tried to make up for its initial support by being extremely proactive through street protests.
To some extent the Akali Dal may have succeeded in overcoming the impact of its initial error. It has been the main beneficiary of the exodus of cadres away from the BJP.
But it may need to do more to regain the popularity it has lost over the past few years.
The Aam Aadmi Party has been extremely firm in its position against the Centre’s laws. The party has been actively protesting the laws. However, the Akali Dal may have edged it out in terms of street protests at least owing to a superior cadre strength.
The AAP is now attacking not just the Centre, but also Captain Amarinder Singh, saying that the Punjab Bills are insufficient and don’t really go against the Centre’s Bills. AAP convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal had a spat on Twitter with Captain Amarinder Singh on this issue.
AAP MP from Sangrur and its most prominent face in Punjab, Bhagwant Mann, has accused the Congress government of presenting “NDA’s Bills” in the Assembly.
Alienated in Punjab, the BJP as of now seems to be prepared to dig its heels. The party’s top leadership feels that since there isn’t much support for it in Punjab anyway, there’s nothing to lose and that the party must not back down from its legislations.
There’s also a strong belief in the party that the protests in Punjab are “motivated”. This belief is likely to shape the Modi government’s response to the Punjab Bills and it is unlikely that the Centre will back down.