“Badal hunn vi saanu dara reha hai, saver di barish ho rahi hai, par hun assi osda koi vi draba nahi chalan dena,” announces Simarjit Singh Bains, Lok Insaaf Party candidate from Atam Nagar in Ludhiana, as soon as he takes to the microphone. There is an applaud, followed by cries of “jo bole so nihal…”, and the atmosphere is instantly charged up.
In a hectic poll campaign, after hugs, greetings and quick change of clothes drenched in rain, he is addressing a mohalla meeting at Gurgian Vihar, arranged in the verandah of a palatial home owned by a supporter. Vying for second consecutive term in the assembly, Bains is up against his one-time aide Kamaljeet Singh Karwal, the Congress nominee.
“Bete ki na baap ki, sarkar banege AAP ki,” says Bains, who is fighting in alliance with Arvind Kejriwal’s party. He is quick to remind the gathering: “While voting in Atam Nagar, Ludhiana South, East and Central and Amargarh (in Sangrur), you will not find the AAP symbol broom. Here vote for the letter box, our party symbol.”
After a series of selfies and handshakes, the convoy leaves for another meeting.
A passionate speaker, Simarjit doesn’t forget to hone in the fact that his elder brother Balwinder Singh Bains and he have remained the fulcrum of anti-Badal campaign in the Vidhan Sabha. The fight is against sacrilege, drugs, unemployment, family rule, and corruption. “We businessmen contribute maximum to taxes and we are called thieves, aha mudda vi vadda hai, jaldi hal kadangey,” he promises to 300-plus gathering of traders and small factory owners. Bains brothers run a sewing machine manufacturing unit in the industrial city, called the Manchester of Punjab.
“He is aggressive, approachable, helps people of Ludhiana, and has always opposed Badals,” Harpal Singh, a supporter among the gathering, tells HT.
Scene change: Durga Mandi, Dugri. A national flag awaiting to be unfurled in the compound to celebrate Republic Day. “Vaddey Bains Saab (Balwinder) aaun waley ne, oho jhanda aa ke charaungey,” announces the stage secretary. Ludhiana’s Patanjali Yog Samiti has organised the function and Balwinder is the chief guest.
After some commotion as everyone settles down, Balwinder begins his address. “Waheguru ji ka khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh, Maryada Purshotam Ram ji ki jai,” belts out Balwinder, trying to be politically correct. “In the past 70 years, governments have changed but not our plight. In the land of five rivers, sixth river of liquor and drugs is flowing,” he says, instantly striking a chord with the gathering.
A temple committee inviting Balwinder, who prefixes jathedar to his name, to address a largely Hindu gathering proves his popularity across sections of society. Because of the established anti-Badal credentials, Balwinder, who is vying second term from Ludhiana South, is also campaigning in far-off places in Tarn Taran, Majitha and Bathinda.
“Eh sehre tuhadey sir hai, tussi do bharavan nu 2012 ’ch independent jitaya, tey asi anpe jimevaree ’ch purey utrey,” says Balwinder. “We have grown tremendously in five years. We have our own party and have fielded candidates on three other seats,” he adds.
Later, talking to HT, Balwinder says the two brothers meet in the morning, decide their plan and move out, only to meet around midnight. They might be campaigning separately, but the tone and pitch is identical. Their style of greeting people – hands folded right along the nose touching the forehead — is the same. Both don’t miss to recall their role in the Vidhan Sabha of exposing alleged wrongdoings of the SAD-BJP government, bash Badals and Bikram Singh Majithia, accuse Congress’ Capt Amarinder Singh of being hands in glove with the Badals, praise AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal and remind the gathering of their poll symbol.
“Veerjian (Bains brothers) have earned name for themselves with hard work, and the entire Ludhiana loves them. They will rise,” Narata Ram, a supporter tells HT.