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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Stakes are personal for Badals in Punjab verdict

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 16, 2014
First Published: 07:33 IST(16/5/2014) | Last Updated: 08:21 IST(16/5/2014)

Tight security arrangements are in place for the counting of votes for all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab.

During the polling, 71% of the 19.5 million voters sealed the fate of 253 contestants, including 19 women.

In Amritsar, Congress' Amarinder Singh fought against BJP's Arun Jaitley. Bathinda also grabbed eyeballs, as Congress candidate Manpreet Singh Badal faced chief minister Prakash Singh Badal's daughter-in-law and sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

The election results might be interpreted as a referendum on the state government of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his deputy and son Sukhbir Badal, and their Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

By anointing Sukhbir as the SAD president and later the deputy CM, Prakash Singh had in 2009 chosen his son over nephew Manpreet, whom the Congress fielded in the Lok Sabha polls as a challenger to take on the family might in their fortress of Bathinda.

Irrespective of whether Manpreet wins, his tie-up with the Congress is a huge development in the state's politics.

This election season, the "dynasty rule" in Punjab became the main poll pitch of the two opposition parties, the Congress and the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Exit polls have predicted that the AAP may spring a surprise in the state.

Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa contested actor-turned-politician and BJP's Vinod Khanna from Gurdaspur seat. Former Union minister Ambika Soni fought her maiden Lok Sabha battle from Anandpur Sahib.

The Congress had lost two back to back assembly polls in 2007 and 2012 in the state.

(With PTI inputs)


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