FORMER CM PARKASH Singh Badal and his family members, son Sukhbir Badal and daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal, who had skipped voting in the 2013 panchayat polls when SAD-BJP was in power in the state, this time made it a point to cast their vote Sunday to support a candidate from their own family- Udayveer Singh Badal. Political rivalry was also set aside when Harsimrat and Sukhbir Badal touched the feet of his uncle Gurdas Badal (Finance Minister Manpreet Badal’s father), who was incidentally at the same booth (No.103).
Udayveer is a close relative of Badal who contested for the post of sarpanch from Badal village in Muktsar district of Punjab. Badal senior arrived around 11:10 am to cast his vote at the booth at Government Primary School for Girls. SAD candidate Udayveer was waiting to welcome him outside the polling booth. After casting his vote, Badal said, “I too started my career as a sarpanch but I was elected unopposed at a young age when I had no experience in politics. Later, I won block samiti polls in Congress rule. However, even at that time, a fair chance was given to all to contest. This time it has become a mere drama. In many villages, nominations were rejected at the behest of the state (Congress) government. It would have been better if candidates would have been directly nominated to save money and time. Even in Zila parishad and block samiti polls, it was murder of democracy.”
Badal, however, added, “Panchayat poll results will have no impact on Lok Sabha polls as people elect their representatives at village level taking in consideration of their relationship with the contestant rather than thinking about a particular party. In Lok Sabha polls, issues are bigger.”
Around 12:30 pm, Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Sukhbir Badal touched the feet of Gurdas Badal (Parkash Singh Badal’s younger brother and Manpreet Badal’s father). Gurdas was exiting the polling booth while the Badal couple was about to enter when they happened to meet each other. Sukhbir later said, “He is an elder member of my family.” Both even invited him to lunch at home. Gurdas told mediapersons, “In the political arena, Manpreet and Sukhbir may be rivals. But we are one family. Politics and personal life should not be mixed.”
After casting his vote, Sukhbir said,” The state election commission has remained biased throughout. Polls should be conducted via election commission of India and State election commission should be scrapped. There was misrule everywhere and nomination papers of our candidates were rejected citing odd reasons.
Voting peaceful at Amarinder’s village
Five out of 8 panchayats of Mehraj village, the native village of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, went to the polls Sunday. The poll process happened peacefully. In village Kothe Himmatpura, the Congress’s Parwinder Singh was chosen the sarpanch by defeating his rival Harmail Singh also from the same party. Kothe Malluana registered 87.5% polling while Kothe Maha Singh registered 80.72% poll percentage. Polling at Mehraj Khurd and Kothe Gursar was at 96.5% and 96% whole counting was underway.
Meanwhile, in Badal village, SAD’s candidate and Badal’s close relative Udayveer Singh Badal lost to the Congress’s Jabarjang Singh Badal by 376 votes. In Mehraj, five of six panchayats were won by Congress and the sixth one went to SAD.
In Mehraj, six panchayats had gone for polls out of which in one Kothe Pipli Congress candidate Paramjeet had won unopposed while in four others – Kothe Himmatpura, Kothe Maha Singh, Mehraj Khurd and Kothe Gursar Congress candidates won. In Kothe Malluana. SAD supported Congress rebel candidate Gurlal Singh won by 23 votes.