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For the Badals, it is a family affair

For the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Punjab elections appear to be an activity of the Hindu undivided family, reports Kumkum Chadha.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2007 03:30 IST

For the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Punjab elections appear to be an activity of the Hindu undivided family. The "karta" (the functional head) of the family is SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, who has fielded family members from key constituencies.

Drive 50 kilometres away from Amritsar and you will Badal's son-in-law in the poll fray; drive less than 10 and son Sukhbir's brother-in-
law is testing political waters.

Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, who is married to Badal's daughter Bibi Parneet Kaur, is the Akali candidate from the Patti assembly constituency. From the Majitha assembly segment, there is a "doosra Badal" (another Badal) - Bikramjit Mathijia. Majithia's sister is married to Sukhbir Badal.

As grandson of Punjab's former chief minister Pratap Singh Kairon, Adesh can boast of a lineage. His father Surinder was a Congress MP. Their ancestral house borders Patti. He himself is a second-time MLA.

As for Majithia, his grandfather was a minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru cabinet. The family later moved to Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. Majithia, however, studied in Delhi.

If Adesh is Badal's choice, Bikram is Sukhbir's chosen lieutenant. Both hope the Badal connection will work to their advantage, despite “friction” within the family. Sukhbir has neither campaigned for Kairon nor extended any visible support to him. In fact, propping up Majithia is being seen as a move to undermine Kairon. Kairon, however, told the Hindustan Times that Sukhbir is "like a younger brother" who often "seeks my guidance".

Kairon has a strong opponent in Congress's Harminder Singh Gill. Gill has been available to the people when Kairon, an MLA, was inaccessible. But Kairon says "I looked at the bigger picture and focused on overall development, which has happened". Gill is a former militant, who was arrested from the Golden Temple after Operation Bluestar.

Bikram Majitha, on the other hand, is a novice. His nomination did create some problems with Jagteshwar Singh Majitha, an aspirant-turned-rebel candidate, firm on acting a spoiler. Unlike Bikram Mathijia, Jagteshwar and Congress's Sukhjinder Raj Singh Lalli as “local” candidates.

Mathijia urges his women voters to be in their best attire on polling day and set the curd (considered auspicious) before stepping out: “Dahi jamana na bhulna” (Do not forget to set the curd).

Irrespective of whether the curd sets or curdles, Badal's relatives have little to worry about. Even though the contest is not a cakewalk, the party will leave no stone unturned to see them through. For, as voters say: "It is like Badal contesting from our constituency."