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.
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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.
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.”