The drawing room of New Moti Bagh Palace — which serves as the war room of the erstwhile royal family of Patiala for the assembly elections — has a new full-time poll strategist. Meet Jaiinder Kaur (46), daughter of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president Capt Amarinder Singh.
Amarinder is campaigning across the state, Jaiinder’s mother, Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, is busy canvassing for brother Raninder Singh in the nearby Samana assembly segment. Earlier, Preneet used to manage the Captain’s poll campaign in Patiala.
Married to Delhi-based industrialist Gurpal Singh, this soft-spoken but pro-active poll manager is the ‘final authority’ in the royal palace these days as far as campaigning-related matters are concerned, especially when her father and mother are not around.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Is this your debut as poll manager?
A: I am not new to poll management. In 1996, when my mother contested the parliamentary elections for the first time from Patiala, I was the incharge for the Rajpura assembly segment. In the 2002 and 2007 assembly polls, too, I worked for my father in Patiala. The only difference is that this time I am handling his affairs single-handedly.
You live in Delhi and have no active political role in Patiala. How tough is it to handle party affairs?
I know all local leaders who support us and even those who don’t. I take feedback from every leader and assign them roles. At the end of each day, I plan for the next day after discussions with my mother.
How different is your work this time compared to previous polls?
It’s more challenging but also more interesting. And, there is strict enforcement of the code of conduct, which is good for democracy.
Your father’s political opponents say he is the ‘most inaccessible leader’ in Punjab. How are you dealing with such charges during campaigning?
What opponents say reflects their political mindset. Every leader has his or her style of functioning. The unprecedented development papa has done for Patiala is for everyone to see. Perhaps, that’s why local residents love him and have sent him repeatedly to the assembly with a record victory margin. Papa is available for every worker when he is in Patiala.
How do you feel when your father’s rivals make sarcastic remarks about his personal life?
Mudslinging has become an integral part of politicking. I know my father. Being from a political family, such remarks hardly make any difference to any politician’s kin.
Does the royalty factor give your family an edge over other candidates in Patiala?
It’s performance and dedication, not royalty, that has provided the real edge to our family in every election. In a democratic set-up, you have to perform well every time to seek the mandate. My parents have always done justice to their jobs.
Any plans to enter politics?
No, no. I am enjoying my family life in Delhi. I don’t think active politics is my cup of tea.