CHANDIGARH: Gone is the hustle and bustle of 2014 and the huge crowd of non-resident Indians who milled about then with some purpose.
Scientists, professors, hoteliers and even harassed parents of abandoned Punjabi brides, who had taken a sabbatical from their comfortable lives in Australia, the UK, the US and Canada, were pulled as if by a magnet to a little known but ‘very promising party’—AAP. This time, that fervour was completely missing during electioneering in Punjab.
Jasbir Singh Gill, former president of Punjab NRI Sabha, says, “In the Assembly elections in 2017 and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the colour and talk was out of this world. There was a lot of josh. There was expectation of something big about to happen. But this time there is nothing to match it. It’s as if all hopes have drained away”.
To many who joined politics with enthusiasm, the recall is of some 30,000 NRIs who had come to Punjab to join the campaigning, especially of AAP. “Today a few hundred are around, that too because they are close to political leaders, their kith and kin,” said Gill.
“The reason NRIs have chosen not to come this time is due to their total disillusionment with all political parties and the hollow promises and arbitrary policies of the Modi government”, says Gill.
At a conservative estimate, some 80 lakh NRIs hail from Punjab. Many found that their land back home had been taken away by unscrupulous elements and whoever they turned to, offered no help. Despite special NRI courts being set up, cases were delayed and there was no justice.
Many of them had seen a ray of hope in AAP. Even families affected by the ‘Honeymoon Brides’ syndrome, where women from Punjab married abroad, were duped and sent back home, had supported it.
With no political party offering concrete help, this huge body of voters is up in arms.