From the mid- 1990s, the Congress's view of the ' Punjab problem' as an essentially law-and-order issue was contested by an emerging alliance between the BJP and the Akali Dal. As Sikh militancy was physically eradicated, moderate Akalis revived an anti-Congress front by courting the BJP. Despite their ideological difference the two parties, which had a history of working together, were drawn closer by the practical realities of competing with the Congress. In the February 1997 PLA elections the BJP-Akali Dal combine scored a landslide victory, preluding a form of regional pact which culminated in the formation of a BJP national government in March 1998.
Chapter 11 examines the developments in Punjab and national politics which drew the Akali Dal and the BJP into an alliance and resulted in the election of an Akali Dal government in Punjab. A key element in this success was the failure of the Congress government elected in Punjab in 1992 to convert its victory against the militants into enduring political advantage. The politics of violent control identified with the chief minister Beant Singh and the state's police chief K.P.S. Gill were dismantled only after the assassination of the former in August 1995 and the subsequent removal of the latter even though militancy had all but been eradicated by early 1993. In the aftermath, the state administration became besieged with pressures such as human rights violations and rampant corruption which had been largely suppressed by the years of counterinsurgency. Eventually the PLA elections were as much a verdict on Congress rule as a success of the Akali Dal-BJP alliance.
Although the Akali Dal-BJP alliance emerged out of the politics of violent control practised by the Congress administration it has the potential to become strategic. Chapter 11 argues that there is much in common between the two parties in shaping a regional and national
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Publication information: Book title: Ethnic Conflict in India:A Case-Study of Punjab. Contributors: Gurharpal Singh - Author. Publisher: Macmillan Press. Place of publication: Houndmills. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 179.
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