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Badal 'Bahu', Union Minister Harsimrat Faces Third Electoral Fight in Bathinda Bastion

The Shiromani Akali Dal has reposed confidence in Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the daughter-in-law of Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal, from Bathinda despite earlier speculations that she could be fielded from Ferozepur seat.

PTI

Updated:May 7, 2019, 5:35 PM IST
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Badal 'Bahu', Union Minister Harsimrat Faces Third Electoral Fight in Bathinda Bastion
Bathinda: Union minister and Akali Dal candidate from Bathinda constituency Harsimrat Kaur Badal files her nomination papers for Lok Sabha polls, in Bathinda, Friday, April 26, 2019. Also seen is her husband and SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal. (PTI Photo)

Bathinda: In the pocket borough of the Badal family here, their 'bahu' and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is facing an electoral challenge from two sitting MLAs and an AAP rebel as she seeks to retain the Bathinda parliamentary constituency for the third time.

Traditionally, Bathinda seat, which is also known as Punjab's cotton belt, has been considered as the stronghold of the Akali Dal as its candidates have won from here on eight occasions.

The Shiromani Akali Dal has reposed confidence in Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the daughter-in-law of Akali stalwart Parkash Singh Badal, from Bathinda despite earlier speculations that she could be fielded from Ferozepur seat.

The SAD patron and five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has been campaigning for his daughter-in-law.

The ruling Congress has given ticket to sitting MLA from Gidderbaha Amrinder Singh Raja Warring while the Aam Aadmi Party has fielded Talwandi Sabo legislator Baljinder Kaur.

Rebel AAP leader and Punjabi Ekta Party chief Sukhpal Singh Khaira is also in the fray. He had last month resigned as MLA for contesting the parliamentary elections.

As the poll campaign picks up in Bathinda, the candidates are targeting each other with Harsimrat Kaur Badal calling her opponents as "fugitives" and Warring attacking the Badal family for the 2015 sacrilege and police firing incidents.

"Three fugitives have been fielded against me. One belongs to ruling party and two others are in opposition, said Harsimrat Kaur Badal while addressing public meeting in her constituency.

Wife of the SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal, Harsimrat Kaur Badal had first contested fromBathinda in 2009 but lost to Raninder Singh, son of chief minister Amarinder Singh by 1.20 lakh votes.

In 2014 Lok Sabha polls during Modi wave, the winning margin of Harsimrat Kaur Badal was just over 19,000 votes as she defeated Manpreet Badal, the estranged cousin of Sukhbir Badal.

Bathinda parliamentary constituency has nine assembly segments of which five seats are represented by the AAP and two each by the Congress and the Akali Dal. It has a total 15.89 lakh voters.

To win over support of the voters for the third time, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, also called 'Biba ji', is banking on the "unprecedented" development in the constituency and at the same time, she is hitting out at her political opponents by raising the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, operation Bluestar and unkept poll promises by the Congress government.

"The Congress party is one of the biggest liars as it made false poll promises (during 2017 assembly polls). Is there any single farmer whose debt has been completely waived off? Rather 1,500 farmers have committed suicides (in last two years)," she had said at the rally.

She also reminded people of the development projects carried out during the 10-year rule of the SAD-BJP regime and launched an offensive against the Congress government for stalling development in the state.

"I seek your support for third time to take the development works forward. There is no doubt that the Modi government is going to repeat again at the Centre," she said.

She termed Warring a 'dramebaaz' for spending a night at a Dalit's house, who resided near the residence of the Badal family.

Lashing out at Harsimrat, the Punjab chief minister said voters would punish her for her "arrogance" and the sacrilege incidents under the previous SAD-BJP rule.

Amarinder Singh was also of the view that Harsimrat as Union minister failed to support Punjab on various issues with the Centre.

Warring dubbed his electoral battle as fight between "commoner and rich" and lambasted the Badal family for allegedly looting Punjab for 10 years.

In his public address, he also attacked Badals for the 2015 sacrilege and police firing incidents and asked voters to oust Harsimrat Kaur Badal from Bathinda seat.

Warring is also being supported by his better half Amrita Warring who has been aggressively campaigning in the constituency.

"If Harsimrat, who has food processing ministry, had wanted she could have created 15,000 to 20,000 jobs here," Amrita Warring said.

PEP nominee and AAP rebel Sukhpal Singh Khaira criticised both the Congress and the Akali Dal for "destroying" Punjab.

"I hold the Congress and the Akali Dal responsible for destroying Punjab. In Bathinda, the government schools, dispensaries are in pathetic condition," he said.

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