Chandigarh, December 28: Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal has played the last card of confining Akali heavy weights to their constituencies by fielding Delhi MLA Jarnail Singh against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi. AAP had added lot of spice when the party announced the candidature of Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann to challenge Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in Jalalabad. Himmat Singh Shergill was shifted under the same strategy from Mohali to be a sacrificial goat in Majitha, the constituency well nurtured by Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
Lambi constituency is characterised by certain peculiarities and village Badal is symbol of that politics that has been played over the years in this region. The people are openly for or against the Badal family. Spending a night in the police station does not mean much.
Badal village is a symbol in the sense that even this native village of the Badals is vertically divided. For about thirty long years, this family could not install sarpanch of its choice. The family at one level is confined to the high walls of the fortress-like residence constructed a few years back. Of course, this area is highly developed in the traditional sense of better and wider roads. The road from Bathinda to Lambi passing through Badal is 4-laned. Even the supporters of the Badal family have experienced a lot of development during the last about ten years, proportional to proximity to the first family and such development is too visible.
Badal family groomed such supporters by taking care of their ‘development’ under the changed situation. For years, the region used to be looked after by his wife Surinder Kaur and younger brother Gurdas Singh Badal, father of Manpreet Singh Badal. Before Sukhbir took over, the family business and lands too used to be managed by Surinder Kaur.
The basic issue is would the candidature of Jarnail Singh change the situation on the ground in Lambi or not. Kejriwal, while announcing his candidature, dwelt on his usual narrative of Badals and state Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh not just only being in league but also partners in all kinds of business, including drugs. He is using the Amarinder terminology of sending Badals to jails that he would use in the run up to the 2002 elections. The chief minister has no power to send anybody to jail as it is a judicial process. Badals were sent to jail by the court in the case of disproportionate assets registered by the Amarinder Singh government.
Kejriwal did not talk of any positive agenda for Punjab except his ‘resolve’ to save Punjab from Badal at the Lambi rally. Saving Punjab from Badals at best can be one part of agenda but the issues are much bigger. The rally was well attended and it was expected to be so in the context of divisions in this region. The main support base of Badal is in about two dozen villages populated by Lahorias, the migrants from Pakistan.
Kejriwal has announced Jarnail’s candidature but he has his vote in Delhi. The candidate must be a voter in the state from where he or she is contesting. In case he has registered himself as a voter in Punjab, then it is a different issue. It is not known whether he has got himself registered as voter in Punjab or not. He would have to vacate Delhi seat in case he gets elected from Lambi.
Jarnail Singh, a former journalist, hit the headlines when he threw a shoe at then union Home Minister P C Chidambaram in Delhi at a press conference. The issue was punishment to the guilty-men of November 1984 violence against the Sikhs in the national capital. He finally landed in AAP.
Badal has been contesting from Lambi since 1997 but every time, he works hard to get himself elected, rather with a better margin. He is one leader who is known to campaign tirelessly, despite his age.
He would have given the same attention even if Kejriwal had not fielded his Jarnail from there. Of course, Sukhbir would have to be very cautious in case he is to seek re-election from Jalalabad as Mann has his own attraction.
Both Jarnail and Shergill are now popular leaders in the traditional sense. It is too early to say that they could end up as sacrificial goats.
But then one has to go back to 1980 elections when Communist stalwart Satya Pal Dang tasted humiliating defeat from Chheherta (now Amritsar West) in Amritsar at the hands of Sewa Ram, a non-entity whom nobody expected to win.