The similarity between Badal village in Lambi and Badalgarh in Lehra is not just in its name. It is as much in their respective claims to the throne of Punjab chief minister. But while Lehra gave Punjab its first and only woman CM,Rajinder Kaur Bhattal who had a short stint of 11 months,Lambi has given the one with longest innings four-time Akali Dal Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Between the two villages,the story is different this elections. Badal village is once again hopeful but the mood in Badalgarh which gave Bhattal a lead of 494 votes in a total of 1,200 odd votes in the 2007 polls is that of dejection. The throne of Congress CM has been reclaimed by Captain Amarinder Singh,erstwhile maharaja of princely state of Patiala just 85 km away days before the state went to polls when Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi announced him as the future CM.
But for neither Badalgarh nor Bhattal it is the last word on the issue. Our party has a democratic tradition. The elected MLAs elect the CM and the final right to decide is with the party president Sonia Gandhi, says Bhattal,refusing to be drawn into a controversy on Rahuls statement. It is never seen,nor heard in Congress history that the CM is decided before the poll verdict. Whatever will be the decision after the verdict is out,I will abide by it, says Bhattals who is fighting another high-stake battle her son-in-law is fighting from the Sahnewal seat.
In this village dominated by Gujjars,she is still in the reckoning for the top post. Malkit Singh,a farmer says the scenario may change after elections. If no party gets majority,it will then depend on who is a consensus candidate for chief ministership in the numbers game, he says.
Gobinder Singh,who with his MA and LLB degrees is perhaps the most educated in the village,says the announcement was made looking at short-term electoral gains. The party thinks it will poll more votes in dabangg Amarinder, he says,adding,their lady is no less dabangg.
Harcharan Singh,a farmer,draws the elite,non-elite divide between the two constituencies. Unlike the Patiala royals,we are a backward area,not elite enough to take our voice to New Delhi, he says,adding,She has given our village pucca roads,a girls polytechnic and a hospital is under construction near the village. Our area is backward and if she becomes CM,our lot will change.
The battle of chief ministership against Amarinder is also behind the talk of signals that abounds the village. The signals range from Akali sympathisers to secretly vote for Bhattal,to Amarinders supporters to not vote for her and from Amarinder camp to Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda not to vote for Bhattal.
Nearly one-third of the village owes allegiance to Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda. But the premis (dera followers) this time are not one on the silent signal of the sect head. Fakiriya Singh,who claims to be the local bhangidas the political nominee of the dera says the dera signaled for Bhattal after she gave an affidavit at the dera to look after them. Many were not happy and had complained against her indifference towards them at the dera. She was pledged support after she gave a written confirmation to be helpful to us, he adds.
He has the dera mouthpiece,Sach Kahun,as proof denying support pledged to Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) candidate Bhagwant Mann. But the premis supporting PPP say the original bhangidas is Mela Singh,who resides at the dera in Sirsa. He told us to vote for who we think is the right candidate, says Binder Insan. The counter claims are not just limited to who is the original bhangidas or signaled candidate but dera premi itself.
The dera advocates against drugs and alcohol but many premis here are addicts. Their vote can be bought with a bottle (of alcohol). Wait for the polls to end at 5 pm and you can see them lined up at the theka (liquor shop), a village elder said.
As for Bhattal,she says politics is serious business. Bhagwant Mann is a comedian,people may go to hear his jokes. Every area wants their leader to lead the state,so do my people, she adds.