The Bhagwant Mann-led Aam Aadmi Party government in Punjab completes one year in office on 16 March 2023.
Having won a massive 92-seat sweep in the 2022 Assembly elections - one of the biggest majorities the state has seen - the expectations were very high from the new AAP government. The expectations were also high because this was the first non-Congress, non-Akali government in over five decades in the state.
The Mann government's performance seems to be seen objectively, sifting through the noise of the national media.
Here's what the Bhagwant Mann government has done right and what they need to be concerned about.
1. Action Against Corruption
Clean governance and acting against corruption was a key plank for AAP in Punjab, not just in the 2022 elections but ever since it burst into the state's electoral scene in 2014. This was in line with its national plank as well.
The perception is that the Bhagwant Mann government has been comparatively tougher on corruption.
It sacked health minister Vijay Singla over alleged corruption and another minister Fauja Singh Sarari resigned over similar allegations. A number of Opposition leaders, IAS and state civil service officers have also been booked.
Lower level corruption, which affects the common man's life much more, is still prevalent but anecdotal evidence from the ground does point towards some reduction.
CM Mann's tough stand against protesting Punjab Civil Service officers also won him some praise from the public.
2. Positives Steps in Agriculture
The government took some steps towards crop diversification. The Budget outlay for this was increased. Procurement of wheat and rice is said to have been done in a smooth manner.
CM Mann had promised procurement of Moong under MSP. This is a good step towards crop diversification in Punjab.
If this is implemented smoothly, it could take Punjab out of the wheat-paddy cycle that is harming the state's water table.
Another positive in agriculture has been a reduction in stubble burning in the state.
3. Free Power Promise Fulfilled
In July 2022, the Bhagwant Mann government announced 300 units of free electricity, fulfilling a key promise it had made during the elections.
4. Lack of an Opposition
A major thing working in favour of Bhagwant Mann's government in Punjab is that even though there are some complaints against it, none of the Opposition parties seem to be emerging as an alternative.
Even many of AAP's non-partisan critics don't quite want a return to the SAD or Congress governments.
Despite being seen as controlled by Delhi, Mann still doesn't evoke the kind of negative public reactions that Badals and Captain do.
The only entities who are rising are among select sections - BJP among a section of Hindus and Simranjit Singh Mann and Amritpal Singh among a section of Sikhs.
What May be a Concern
1. Law and Order
Going by media coverage, law and order is being seen as one of the biggest concerns for the Punjab government.
This is also the aspect that Opposition parties are targeting AAP most on.
Whether there has really been an increase in crime will be clear only when the National Crime Records Bureau releases its data later this year.
AAP may have shown some inexperience in this regard. This was most evident in the manner in which the government publicly announced the downgrading of the security cover of VIPs.
This move drew flak following Sidhu Moose Wala's assassination.
Moose Wala's killing set in motion a chain of events, such as Simranjit Singh Mann's win in the Sangrur bypoll.
Then, Moose Wala's killing also led to increasing involvement of central agencies in Punjab's security affairs.
The government on its part has claimed that it has had several successes against gangs due to its anti-gang task force.
However, high profile incidents even after Moose Wala - such as the killing of Hindutva leader Sudhir Suri, Bargari sacrilege accused Pradeep Singh and more recently the stabbing at Anandpur Sahib - have all brought increased scrutiny on the law and order situation in Punjab.
2. Debt Burden
The Punjab government faces a massive debt burden of Rs 3.2 lakh crore. It was already about Rs 2.5 lakh crore when the Mann government took over.
To be fair, this wasn't really the Mann government's doing and is largely the result of the policies of successive governments.
However, the problem persists. Expenditures like Rs 20,000 crore on power subsidies alone, aren't helping matters.
The urgent need is to boost investment in Punjab. It remains to be seen how much of the investment pledged in the government's recent investor summit bear fruit.
According to the Punjab budget, the government has begun the process of reducing the state's debt burden and paid back loans worth Rs 36,046 crore.
3. Political Vacuum
Perhaps the bigger problem that Bhagwant Mann and AAP are dealing with in Punjab is the perception that there is a political vacuum.
Some of it isn't AAP's doing and can be traced back to the decline of the Badals following the 2015 Bargari sacrilege and the subsequent failure of the Congress to provide decisive leadership in the state.
However, the allegations that the Punjab government is being controlled by AAP's Delhi leadership may have harmed its cause.
If Mann displays a more robust Punjab-centric leadership, it may help AAP contain interference from the Central government as well as the rise of hardline elements in Punjab.