June 29, 2011
Shri Manpreet Singh Badal
C/o Shri Gurdas Singh Badal
Bathinda-Kheo Wali Road
Village: Badal, Tehsil: Lambi
Distt: Muktsar – 152113, Punjab
AN OPEN LETTER TO SOLICIT YOUR GRACIOUS PRESENCE FOR A TV DEBATE WITH SHRI HARCHARAN BAINS
As the harbinger of democratic renaissance which promises to catapult Punjab back to its halcyon days of glory, your persona, intellect and self-effacing disposition has captured the imagination of young and old alike. You have the empathy as well as intensity which pulverizes every perceived barrier of society, shattering the glasshouses of inequities and inequalities machinated deviously by certain unscrupulous elements; a farmer or villager feels as connected and devoted to your cause as an educated highbrow or urban dweller. The bold brushstrokes of yellow, color of your party, seems to have covered every gali and nukkad of Punjab, as if they are marking the arrival of a new and eternal spring. You stand tall like a warrior-poet, as the bestower of izzat-abroo to a land where men as valiant as Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Alexander the Great have reaped their fortunes — only to share it with the people, only ending up being subservient to them. From the minutest political dynamics to broadest democratic overtures, nothing misses your observant eye and erudition.
However, Sir, I must remind you of a political development — nay, an obligation — that seems to have been overlooked by your party in the heat, literal and figurative, of this election campaign. Shri Harcharan Bains, Media Advisor to the Chief Minister, is a public intellectual of unfathomable wisdom and humility, the kind of which is seldom seen in the corridors of power. I must confess this candidly that not only is he my personal hero but his demeanor, pervasive and transcendental personality, the cultural and artistic richness of his discourse has inspired me so much that I hail Mr Bains as the Richard Wagner of Punjab. It is as if a Sufi dervish has lost his way and meandered into the hallowed halls of politics, mistaking it to be some dargah. But I presume that you are in a better position to appreciate Mr Bains, having spent a majority of your childhood and youth in his overwhelming presence.
During the unfortunate turn of events after your separation from SAD, emotions ran high on both the sides. Sometimes, words or expressions which were to be seen through the lens of gloominess and irony were mistaken as personal attacks or vendetta politics. As the feeling of a monumental loss subsided, Mr Bains requested you to engage in a TV debate in order to provide a decisive and transparent platform on which the people of Punjab could base their pluralistic and democratic aspirations. But in a swift and unexpected way, you marked him as persona non grata. I am sure some misunderstanding attributed to the “fog of war”, if I may, led to this opinion of yours. From that day on, Mr Bains has constantly repeated this request, like he is writhing in the agony of designated insignificance; like a knight chained and locked-up in the high tower, seeing a wave of activity down below yet feeling utterly helpless. I urge you Sir, to free this man from the shackles and accept his request for a debate. Let it be a benchmark for the way in which elections are fought, ideologies are promulgated and leaders are nurtured. It would be a tad bit unfair to disregard him as an unequal political competitor, with three decades of experience and an extremely senior position in the Government of Punjab. And I am doubly sure of you being well-aware that in the present scenario, he is the most experienced, skillful, knowledgeable and entertaining competitor you can ever enter into an oratory duel with. Although I consider Mr Bains’ open letter to you (published by The Tribune on October 17, 2010) as one of the finest polemical pieces in Punjab’s political history, there is to be a gentlemen’s agreement that the debaters would not highlight or point-out aspects from each other’s personal lives, and that any justification should be citable or have documentary evidence. Let the JFK among you unmask a sweaty Nixon!
Founder, Abroo (ਆਬਰੂ)
Shri Harcharan Bains, Media Advisor to the CM of Punjab
Editor, PTC News
Editor, Day & Night News