It is 6.45 am and the staff at booth number 110 set up at the government primary school, Badal village, are ready for voters. The “super model” booth is just a few metres from CM Parkash Singh Badal’s house. There is a separate, decorated area for the CM and his family to cast their votes. The family is welcomed with bouquets, while Badal’s estranged nephew Manpreet Singh Badal is given a rosebud. A medical team sits under a tent while NSS volunteers serve tea and welcome voters.
Media vans wait for the family and Manpreet Badal, who is contesting against Badal’s daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur. Manpreet comes alone at 8.07 am, the rest of the family arrives at 9.10. These include first-time voter Harkirat Kaur Badal, daughter of Harsimrat and deputy CM Sukhbir Badal.
Polling staff forgot to give certificates of appreciation to first-timers who came until 9 am. They do give one to Harkirat.
She is guided by her mother and grandfather. And her father asks her, “Will you vote for chacha or your mother? I hope you have decided.” Harkirat smiles and pressed the button. Later, appreciation certificate in hand, she says, “I will get it framed. And of course I voted for mother. No second thoughts on that.”
Charanjeet Kaur does not divulge who she voted for. “ It is difficult. It is Badal versus Badal this time,” she says.
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The Badals differ in their estimates of victory. The chief minister says, “We will win all 13 seats and the margin in Bathinda will be over 2 lakh.” Sukhbir says, “We will win 10 for sure and the margin in Bathinda will be over 3 lakh.” And Harsimrat, wearing a parrot green anarkali suit, says, “I won in 2009 by 1.20 lakh votes. This time the margin will be higher.”
Manpreet too is confident: “Anti-incumbency against state government is just a mild word. It is anger.”