Shimpy Bansal of Gidderbaha town in Muktsar district gets nostalgic watching 17-year-old Anantveer Singh, son of Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and SAD chief Sukhbir Badal, both of whom are contesting this Lok Sabha election. “His grandfather Parkash Singh Badal had also started his political career from this house, as did his father Sukhbir. Today, the third generation of the Badal family has come to my house for opening of the party office.”
Anantveer is chief guest for the opening. The office will be used to campaign for SAD candidate from Ferozepur, Gulzar Singh Ranike. Gidderbaha’s halqa in-charge Dimpy Dhillon said, “He just came to familiarise himself with political meetings and activities. I requested Bibaji (Harsimrat) to send Kakaji (Anantveer) with me for party office opening functions and she agreed.”
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Donning a white kurta-pajama and blue turban, a quiet Anantveer is kept away from the eyes of the media. Dhillon refuses to let him interact directly with reporters, saying, “Anantveer is too young as of now. He just came for party office opening.” Instead, the Class XII student of Delhi’s Vasant Valley School does ardaas (prayer) and later obliges party workers when they come to take photos with him. He then goes to Doda village to participate in yet another party office opening in support of Ranike, and finally makes his way to Muktsar, which falls in his father’s constituency.
Meanwhile, Anantveer’s elder sister Harkeerat Kaur (23) has been on the ground with her mother. Over the past two days, she has attended election meetings with Harsimrat in Jangirana, Sardargarh, Virk Khurd villages in Bathinda, as well as nukkad meetings with Istri Akali Dal in Kotfatta. She has been seen interacting with voters and children, seeking the blessings of elders. Harsimrat’s other daughter Gurleen Kaur however, has not been seen as part of the campaigning.
This the first time that the Badal couple’s children have been seen in the political arena. However, this is not the first time that a Badal heir has been seen on the field. Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal’s son Arjun Badal was seen campaigning for his father for the first time in 2012, when he contested from the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP). Arjun used to deliver speeches making vote appeals at the age of 17. He campaigned for him later in 2014 and 2017.
This time, he is campaigning for Congress candidate Amarinder Raja Warring in urban parts of Bathinda, where he has been seen delivering speeches. “I am focusing on Bathinda urban, as I had been part of the campaign here in the past as well, so I am well versed with the issues,” said Arjun, now 25. His sister Rhea Badal too goes for door-to-door campaigns.
Other heirs in the thick of campaigning
Mehtaab Khaira, son of PDA candidate Sukhpal Khaira, is also handling campaigning in many areas independently. In 2017, he had campaigned in Bholath.
Ajaypreeet Singh Bains, son of Ludhiana’s Lok Insaaf party candidate Simarjeet Singh Bains regularly visits Jagraon, Mullanpura Dakha areas. Before his father visits villages, he holds meetings there.
Congress candidate Amarinder Raja Warring’s minor daughter is also often seen at her father’s side at some village meetings.
Party sources say the public appearances by children of poll candidates is aimed at strengthening vote appeal. “They get used to be in public and even the masses get to know them. So for politicians, public appearance is very important and hence these children are being trained for that,” said a SAD leader who was seen guiding Anantveer when he was in Gidderbaha.