Parkash Singh Badal (left) and son Sukhbir hold the reins in Punjab, but the two focus on completely different issues — the father on villages and the son on infrastructure projects.
Being residents of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's village, they ought to be a privileged lot. However, some villagers are more equal than others.
The plush old-age home, with elders playing cards along the lush-green lawns, gives you the impression that all's well. What shatters the illusion is the fact that the home, run by the Badals under the Ch Devi Lal Trust, is out of bounds for poor elders of the village. Most of the 30-odd inmates belong to surrounding or far-flung villages.
"This is a locality of the poor," says a village boy while taking the HT team on a round of the village.
Surjit Kaur (62) got a card for subsidised wheat and pulses recently. "The card has Badal's photograph, but we have been told that the ration will come after a few days," she says. All her money has been spent on buying flour. Surjit Kaur claims she has none left for vegetables.
She has also not received the monthly old-age pension of Rs. 250 since Diwali. To make matters worse, her married son is jobless. However, despite all the despair, she is keen to cast her vote.
Another old woman says that not all the poor people are getting subsidised ration or kerosene, "forget about Rs. 45,000 for a pucca dwelling", since they are victimised by one political party or the other.
An ailing old man says one would find dozens of poor elders deprived of old-age pension and medical aid in the village.
When asked whether he has given candidates a piece of his mind during the panchayat or assembly elections, he says with a wry smile: "Who would dare to confront the Badals?"