Despite having carved a niche for herself as the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) flag-bearer in the Lok Sabha, the May 16 poll verdict will continue to haunt Harsimrat Kaur Badal, the sitting Bathinda member of Parliament (MP), even after her second consecutive victory at the hustings.
Harsimrat, wife of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, was locked in a virtually direct fight with Congress’ Manpreet Singh Badal, estranged nephew of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, in what was a make-or-break battle of the ballot.
Right from the beginning, the victory of the SAD was a foregone conclusion. At stake was the victory margin as the Akali leadership was claiming to retain the seat with the highest margin across the state.
But Harsimrat barely managing to retain this seat by a margin of 19,939 votes is a testimony to the Badal family rebel bouncing back with compound interest.
While the SAD nominee polled 5.14 lakh votes, the Congress candidate bagged 4.94 lakh votes and the AAP clearly ruined the chances of Congress by bagging 87,600 votes. Apparently had it been a direct contest, Manpreet could have caused huge embarrassment to the deputy CM.
The Congress gaining an impressive lead from Bathinda (rural), Bathinda (urban) and Mansa is an indicator of disenchantment prevailing against the ruling Badal clan.
From the beginning of the campaign, the Akali Dal faced palpable public anger and the deputy CM was forced to confine himself to Bathinda. This despite the whole government focusing on this seat even at the cost of other constituencies.
That the going was becoming increasingly tough became apparent when the BJP’s Prime Ministerial nominee Narendra Modi had to address a rally at Bathinda.
Not only this, the SAD had to urge the BJP and the RSS to send its leaders to camp in Hindudominated assembly segments to turn the tide in Harsimrat’s favour.
However, being the only woman MP from Punjab and in view of the SAD’s strong ties with the BJP, Harsimrat seems set to get a berth in the Modi cabinet.
“We will look into what worked in our favor and what went against. There were multiple factors working in Bathinda,” said Harcharan Singh Bains, SAD general secretary.