The estranged Badal bahus (derani-jethani - Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Vennu Badal) have been holding the “fort” at home constituencies of Gidderbaha and Malout in the absence of husbands to woo the voters. Reaching the people to ask for the votes is not new job for both Badal Bahus, but the only difference is that this time their mission is different.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal
Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Daughter-in-law of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, leaves her home in the Badal village at around 8 AM in the morning every day to campaign for the candidates of Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).
Addressing public rallies, meeting with people, posing with the party workers for the lensmen has remained part of life of Harsimrat after she was elected as Bathinda MP in 2009. But now she is no shy to ask the people to pay back for getting clicked with her.
“Main votan ton bad dekhan gi ke jo photos khichva rahe ne uhna ne sanu votan payian ke nahi. (I will check if those who have been posing with me, voted for us or not.)” announces Harsimrat while posing with some urban women at the house of the SAD(B) worker Tony Garg at the Malout where Harsimrat was campaigning for the party candidate Harpreet Singh Kot Bhai.
Her calls for the votes brings a smile on the faces and makes the women comfortable who were feeling little nervous to pose with the one of the most powerful women of the state.
At Public meetings, while listing achievements of SAD-BJP government, Harsimrat carry on her political agenda and targeting Congress as a divided house. “Tuhanu Pata hi hai ke Congress rebels hi ni sagon kujh congress leaders vi sadi ander khate maddad kar rahe han (Apart from the congress rebels, some congress leaders are also helping us behind the curtains),” claims Harsimrat in an informal talk with former high priest of Akal Takhat Jasvir Singh Rode and some other supporters during a small meeting before lunch.
“I have very delicate stomach. At the start of my political career, I visited a home of our supporter in Muktsar where they offered me a glass of water. I thought it was lemon water but in fact it was dirty salty water that made me badly sick for next few days. From that day, I decided not to eat and drink from outside.” Harsimrat use to bring the home made lunch along with her while campaign.
Sharing her experience about asking for the votes, she said, “I have paid lots of visits to the villages of my parliamentary constituency. In the many of these villages, I have paid more than three visits in last two and half years and delivered on their all demands. But taking the advantage of my repeated visits, people started to raise amazing demands as they had left with no other genuine demand to ask for the money. Like they started to say, “Marriage palace banva deo ji. (Please construct a marriage palace for us).”
At the same time she maintained that the result of the elections, in the constituencies she has been campaigning, will also depends upon the performance of the sitting MLAs. “My personal performance could be judged only in elections I would be contesting,” said Harsimrat.
It has been a double challenge for the Veenu Badal campaigning for his husband Manpreet Singh Badal in the dusty lanes of the villages of the Gidderbaha and Maur constituency. She Just not have to ask for the votes for his husband but also has to explain the logic behind the departure of his husband from the SAD (B).
“Manpreet Singh has been thrown out of the party because he wanted to cut into the subsidies for the Rich people to help the poor. Now we have formed a new party for the poor Peoples’ Party of Punjab (PPP) and it symbol is Kite.” Explains Veenu Badal in an introduction.
“Takadi Hun Purani ho gayi. Ghat vadh Tolan Lag payi. Hun eh pura pura nai toldi. (The Takadi has lost its balance. It started to make biased measurements.)” Explains Veenu Badal to convince the people to click the symbol of kite on the day of voting.
Striking an emotional chord, Veenu Badal tells electorate “I and my entire family stood and will stand by you all the time and you also reciprocated the same,”.
Flanked by supporters, she is moving from one village to another to garner support for her husband, who is busy in campaigning in the rest of the state.
Every election meeting she attends witnesses good crowds anxious to hear what she has to say. Dressed simply in Salwar Kameez with dupatta (completely without any make up, obviously inspired by the simplicity of her husband), she greets voters with the easy grace that comes from years of good breeding. She mingles and meets the maximum people in every meeting and try to make the crowd feel that she is one of them.
“I am all for woman empowerment and want my daughter Riya to feel the same empowerment as my son Arjan feels” she said while advocating equal property rights for girls and boys in ancestral property.
Veenu Badal tries to touch the nerve of the people by telling the miseries and sad stories of people suffering from various diseases. At the same time, She also lists achievements of her husband, like installation of water purification system in the villages (suffering from cancer and other diseases. The effect on the listeners is marked.
When asked about comparison with her sister-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal, she said, “There should not be any comparison.”
About family feud, she said, “ “Many things have been written on the name of my son against his grandfather Parkash Singh Badal. But the reality is that, from inside, Arjun Badal feels pain for whatever happened in the family,” said Veenu Badal.
If these woman charge are capable of swaying the voters in favour of their parties or not remains to be seen.