Chandigarh: Punjab’s health system could go under the knife with 13 doctors making it to the state assembly this election, including 10 from the AAP which is set to form the next government.
“I feel the way the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) worked in Delhi in various sectors, particularly health, instilled confidence among doctors. The doctors were excited and wanted this (Delhi) system in Punjab too.
“We felt if we have proper infrastructure here, we can deliver better. I was doing a government job and saw the shortcomings there, which we will rectify now,” Baljit Kaur (46), an eye surgeon, commented on many winning AAP candidates coming from the medical background.
Kaur, the AAP candidate from Malout, had defeated SAD’s Harpreet Singh by a margin of 40,261 votes.
The entrance of qualified doctors into the political space has got a thumbs-up from various quarters who have called it a “sign of positive change”.
Among the 13 doctors elected to the state assembly, two are women practitioners — Amandeep Kaur Arora from Moga and Baljit Kaur from Malout — and belong to the AAP.
One doctor each has been elected as MLA from the Congress, SAD and BSP.
The AAP MLAs said the health infrastructure of Punjab is set to get a major boost given the party’s track record in Delhi, where the AAP is credited with starting various public health initiatives like mohalla clinics.
Among the winning AAP MLAs from the medical field are Charanjit Singh, an eye surgeon, who defeated the outgoing chief minister and three-time MLA Charanjit Singh Channi from Chamkaur Sahib seat.
It was a sweet revenge for Singh, who runs a hospital in Morinda, as he was defeated by Channi in the 2017 polls by a margin of over 12,000 votes.
The medicos from the AAP said people of Punjab have voted for change and entrusted them with big responsibility, and among their priorities will be to transform the health and education sectors of the northern state.
Singh (61), MS (Eye), PGIMER Chandigarh defeated Channi by a margin of 7,942 votes.
The first-time legislator told PTI that Punjab’s health system will need to be set right.
“We need to scale up the health infrastructure,” he said.
Echoeing similar views, AAP’s Baljeet Kaur said the state’s health sector will need a surgery.
Kaur, who was awarded the best performing eye surgeon in her district, said, “In my own area’s civil hospital, there are four specialists against the requirement of 10.”
During her poll campaigning, she said many of her patients turned up in support, while some follow-up cases sought on-the-spot consultation.
“During campaigning, I also tried to correct the ‘foresight’ of people, telling them only AAP can bring about a change,” Kaur added with a smile.
Not daunted by the fact that he was facing a chief minister as opponent, Dr Charanjit Singh said right from the start, he was confident of his win.
“There was no development, including in Channi’s constituency. The traditional parties used to bluff people in the name of development. But people have come to know that what these parties portrayed as development is not the case.
“You need good schools, hospitals, employment — these were our main issues. We told people this time what development means,” Singh said.
AAP’s Vijay Singla (52), a dentist, defeated popular Punjabi singer and Congress candidate from Mansa, Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu Moosewala by a huge margin of 63,323 votes.
It is a good sign that educated people are coming out and working for the welfare of the society. They want to do something for the society. They are joining (politics) and this is what is known as ‘Inquilab’, he said.
On the priorities of his constituency, Singla said, I have been living here for the last 27 years. I know the people here and their problems.”
Congress leader Dr Raj Kumar Chabbewal (52), who was re-elected from Chabbewal in Hoshiarpur district, said, “Doctors are very hard working and their joining political stream is a good sign. Doctors are also very close to the society.
“India is such a country where a lot needs to be done in the health sector and I think when well-qualified people, including doctors, join politics, governments can take their help in bringing good policies,” he said.
Chabbewal, whose wife is a senior government doctor in Hoshiarpur, said if there are some doctors in the opposition as well as the ruling camp, they can have quality debate, bring good laws and prepare framework for concrete services.
Another winning candidate is 39-year-old Dr Amandeep Kaur Arora (39). The AAP leader defeated Congress’ Malvika Sood from Moga by a margin of 20,915 votes. Interestingly, Arora did her MBBS from Ukraine in 2008.
Arora said people of Punjab wanted a change and only AAP could provide that alternative to them.
During the peak of Covid pandemic, she had got a letter of appreciation from the deputy commissioner for rendering yeoman services.
Among other medicos who made it to the assembly are AAP leaders Jasbir Singh Sandhu and Ajay Gupta. AAP’s Balbir Singh, an eye surgeon, defeated senior Congress leader Brahm Mohindra’s son Mohit Mohindra from Patiala Rural seat.