BOOTH NUMBER 118, at Government Primary School in Badal village, accounts for 998 votes. And holds a special attention in Punjab; it is the booth where Punjab’s first family, the Badals, votes.
On Saturday, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal arrived at the booth at 10.38 am, followed by son and Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal and daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal in separate vehicles. They were voters number 7, 8 and 9 in the electoral roll.
Harsimrat’s daughter Harkirat, who first voted in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, was in Delhi, where she studies.
Seemingly unfazed by unfavourable poll surveys, Badal – at 89 a five-time CM – said after casting his vote that SAD and BJP “will rule once again”. He said, “Amarinder (Singh, the Congress CM candidate and his opponent from lambi seat) is saying this is his last election, but I will remain in politics till I am alive. I will contest polls (again)…. I may be elder to others in age, but in will power, I am the youngest.”
Standing beside his father, Sukhbir, referring to the colour of Akalis, said, “A blue turban wave is all over.”
Badal village has three polling booths, but the entire Badal clan has votes in one booth. More than 25 relatives of Parkash Singh Badal, mostly women, also accompanied him. “We all had a group photo at home before starting for the polling booth,” Harsimrat said.
The CM’s estranged nephew, Manpreet Badal, who was the first Badal to vote at booth number 118 today at 8.15 am, said, “Inshallah! Congress will form the government this time. Congress has always saved Punjab.” Manpreet was finance minister in the SAD-BJP government before he formed his own People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) in 2011 and contested in 2012. This time, he is part of the Congress.
Manpreet’s father Gurdas Badal came to vote around 10 am, half-an-hour before his elder brother, Parkash Singh Badal. “Captain will win from Lambi and Congress will form the government,” he said.
Amarinder’s son Raninder, who is his father’s polling agent in Lambi, also visited the booth. “This time, I won’t be able to cast my vote in Patiala.”
In Patiala, where he is contesting a second seat, Amarinder said, “People don’t want SAD’s mafia and communal ideology, nor do they want AAP’s radical extremism. Punjab stands at the brink of a positive change, and Congress is all set to provide it.
The turnout at booth 118 was 75 per cent —- down from 78 per cent in 2012. In Badal village, overall turnout was 74 per cent.