CHANDIGARH: They are the wives of the most high-profile political leaders of Punjab and are well-known faces in their own right, but face tough poll battles this time.
While Union Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal, wife of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal and daughter-in-law of five-time former CM Parkash Singh Badal, is seeking re-election from Bhatinda, Preneet Kaur, wife of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, is looking to seal a win in Patiala.
Both are fighting heavier odds, with Badal up against Sikh anger over the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib and subsequent police firing in which two Sikh youths died in 2015 when SAD-BJP was in power, while Preneet is facing open rebellion against her candidature from Congressmen.
To add to the odds, out of the nine Assembly segments in Bathinda, the Aam Adami Party (AAP) has MLAs in five, while SAD and Congress control two each. But due to infighting within SAD, the result is not as assured as in the past.
Harsimrat had won the 2009 and 2014 elections when the SAD-BJP alliance was in power. This time around, her main contender is Amarinder Singh Raja Warring of the Congress. In his elections campaign, Warring has labelled Badal senior as “panth da doshi” (enemy of the Sikh Community).
Harsimrat, however, brushes aside these accusations, labelling them “Phandi Prachar” (false propaganda) by the Congress.
In the Congress citadel of Patiala, 75-year old Preneet Kaur, who is in fray for the fifth time after winning the seat in 1999, 2004 and 2009, faces a rebellion. Congressmen have openly revolted against the party in four Assembly segments of Sanaur, Shatrana, Patran and Nabha.
Local leaders in Nabha have announced support to Punjab Democratic Alliance candidate Dharamvir Gandhi. In Shutrana, the local cadre is against MLA Nirmal Singh Shutrana. In Sanaur, party workers blame Harry Mann for backing SAD turncoats than supporting his party men. In 2014, Preneet had trailed from the four Assembly segments and was defeated.
Captain steps in to help wife
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh has asked his close confidante Lal Singh to pacify party workers of four Assembly segments who have rebelled. Political observers feel Preneet Kaur’s confidants lack rapport with local party workers, which is causing problems.