In Punjab, many voted for Manmohan despite SGPC campaign

May 17th, 2009 - 3:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, May 17 (IANS) He might not have been their candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha election but a large number of voters in Punjab and Chandigarh voted for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh - the man and his policies - despite a smear campaign against him.

In an election which saw campaigning hitting a personal low with Manmohan Singh even being termed as “not a Sikh” by the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar, there were many, including professionals, youngsters and urban Punjabis, who voted for his clean and positive image.

“It is a matter of great pride for the whole Sikh community that someone from a minority holds the most coveted and responsible position of our country. Sikhs constitute only two percent of the population of our country, yet one of us is leading the country for another term of five years,” Jaspal Bhalla, an industrialist running a business of precision equipments in Dera Bassi in Punjab, told IANS.

He added: “This verdict of the masses has reinforced the fact that India is a secular nation in true spirit.”

Harmanjit Deol, a young entrepreneur based in Sangrur in Punjab, said: “We were hardcore fans of BJP but this time we supported Congress just because of the presence of Manmohan Singh at the helm of affairs. His ideologies and attitude depict the bright future of India.”

Deol said that even US President Barack Obama agreed with the economic policies of the Indian prime minister and had also praised him at various international conventions.

“If some opposition leaders cannot see and acknowledge that, it reflects on their thinking,” he added.

Added Gunjan Sidhu, a Ludhiana-based share broker: “I never voted in the past but this time I have voted for the personality and clean image of Manmohan Singh. I firmly believe that only Manmohan Singh as PM can bring India out of this financial slump.”

Manmohan Singh will be the second candidate after India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to hold the top post immediately after completing the first full term of five years in office.

“After the 1984 riots, I had never voted for Congress. But this time, I changed my decision. This is not because I have gained belief in the philosophy of Congress but because we wanted to see a turbaned Sikh prime minister in the centre,” said Jalandhar-based Kanwarjit Singh Khalon, a victim of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, who scored a hat-trick by winning the lone Chandigarh parliamentary seat with a record margin, told IANS: “Manmohan Singh has been one of the most successful PMs. People are quite satisfied with the developmental projects started by him that are directly related to the growth of this region.”

“Manmohan Singh has a close association with Chandigarh. He had stayed here, studied here and even taught here in Panjab University (PU). So we also feel connected to him in one way or the other,” said Pulkit Bansal, a student of journalism at PU.

The university is the alma mater of Manmohan Singh and it is here that he started his career and went on to become a professor at the age of 32.

First-time voters and industrialists are quite enthusiastic over the second term of Manmohan Singh.

“This was my first vote and the presence of Manmohan Singh made the task of choosing the right political party easier for me. He does not need to prove his intelligence and honesty to anyone,” said Priyanka Sharma, a student.

She added: “Now, he should also bring Rahul Gandhi and other young winning candidates in the cabinet. I am sure that he would certainly change the face of the country in the next five years.

“I am happy that UPA government under the leadership of Manmohan Singh has got clear-cut majority. Their stability will certainly boost the Sensex and investment climate in the country,” said Adheesh Jain, who exports automobile parts from Ludhiana.

Gaurav Saini, a real estate agent and a builder based in Zirakpur, Punjab, told IANS: “Manmohan Singh has very clear ideas in his mind and he understands the intricacies of business and importance of FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in a growing economy. We want him to rope in more FDI to rejuvenate various industries.

“Earlier there were many decisions that UPA could not take because of undue pressure of Left but I think now they can easily work for the betterment of corporates.”

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