A clean image, excellent oratorical skills, clarity of thought and the Badal surname, Manpreet Singh Badal (53) had everything going for him when he took a big gamble in October 2010. The strapping four-time MLA, who was the finance minister in the Parkash Singh Badal government, broke away from the Badal family following differences over governance issues. He floated his People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) with the promise to be a ‘third force’ in the bipartisan state politics. Positioning himself as an alternative to the Akalis and the Congress, Manpreet raised the hopes of those dejected with the two parties. But the gambit didn’t work in the assembly polls, reducing his party to virtually a nonentity. HT looks at five reasons why the PPP, allotted the ‘kite’ as the poll symbol, failed to soar.
Manpreet not only could not emerge as the rallying point for detractors of the ruling Badals but he also failed to establish an organisational set-up of his party. He remained the only face and voice of the PPP. Though charismatic, the former minister needed a team to take on the well-organised Akalis and connect with the masses.
Frittered away goodwill
He resigned from the Badal government over financial mismanagement, debt and misgovernance, but was not able to rouse the public over these issues. Getting caught in financial jargon, the PPP chief failed to tap into anti-incumbency against the Akalis, frittering away goodwill he had earned. The Congress and the AAP are targeting the SAD on the same issues.
Failure to retain team
A loner, the PPP chief was unable to retain the confidence of comrades such as ex-MLAs Jagbir Singh Brar and Harnek Singh Gharuan, former deputy speaker Bir Devinder Singh, comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann (now AAP MP from Sangrur) and Kushaldeep Dhillon. They left him one by one, dubbing him as a “complex personality with an egoistic approach”.
Burden of Badal surname
Manpreet had parted with the Badals on a bitter note, but he could not escape the political burden of being a member of the Badal clan. Father Gurdas Badal’s closeness to elder brother Parkash Singh Badal remained the talking point in villages across Malwa and the rivals also cashed in on it. No wonder, he now calls it his biggest hindrance.
Gave up on PPP quickly
If he was looking for quick gains in the 2012 assembly polls after quitting the SAD just 18 months ago, he was daydreaming. It’s not easy to break the hegemony of established parties without an organisational set-up. Manpreet gave up on the PPP after contesting only the assembly polls. He fought the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the Congress symbol, losing to Harsimrat Kaur Badal from Bathinda.