Friday's verdict will decide political future of the Badals
By anointing Sukhbir Badal as the SAD president and later the deputy CM, Prakash Singh had in 2009 chosen his son over nephew Manpreet Badal, whom the Congress fielded in the Lok Sabha polls as a challenger to take on the family might in Bathinda.india Updated: May 15, 2014 19:19 IST
Over two years ago, they changed the see-saw history of Punjab elections by defying anti-incumbency in the assembly polls. Now, the stakes for the ruling Badals in the Friday verdict are personal.
The 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 Badal, 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).
Together, they tried to whip up a strong anti-incumbency sentiment by targeting Sukhbir and his two powerful brothers-in-law — ministers Bikram Singh Majithia and Adesh Partap Singh Kairon.
The Lok Sabha poll outcome will also have an impact on the hold of Majithias and Kairons, the clansmen of Sukhbir's two brothers-in-law, in the government and the party.
So, at stake for the Badals is not just the dynasty but also the BJP coalition, in which the SAD is a dominant partner.
Last but not the least, the verdict will also impact the party. The choice of candidates for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls has already exposed the chinks in the father-son power centres within the SAD.
The CM had put his foot down to ensure tickets for some of his loyalists, while the son fielded his candidates on many key seats.
There was a big talk that the old Akali guard was not too happy with the rise of the young brigade close to Sukhbir and his revenue minister, Bikram Singh Majithia. They are also upset at the party leaving its own panthic agenda.
Arvind Kejriwal's AAP is now making inroads into the SAD's territory. The party may spring a surprise in Punjab, according to exit polls.
Meanwhile, Badals are hoping to at least square up with opposition Congress, if not win more seats.
After all, the contours of the dynasty, party and coalition will be shaped by how they fare on Friday.
The summer verdict will also decide what course the assembly elections slated for 2017 will take.