He wishes for the defeat of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) led by his elder brother and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, yet moves in a vehicle that has a red beacon in violation of Supreme Court orders. Gurdas Badal, 86, represents an irony in the family- and patronage-driven politics of Punjab.
“The Akali Dal will face a crushing defeat,” Gurdas says in an informal chat with HT. The pitch is a notch higher than it was when his son, Manpreet Badal, had left the SAD and the post of finance minister in uncle Parkash’s cabinet to form the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) a year ahead of the 2012 assembly polls. Gurdas had avoided speaking against the Akali-BJP regime, and even when he fought as PPP candidate against elder brother Parkash from Lambi segment, Gurdas opted to sit at home than campaign for votes.
Now, Gurdas says he is happy with son Manpreet’s decision of going to the Congress and will campaign hard for him. About the PPP, which won no seat in 2012, he says it faded out “because Manpreet was left alone after the poll results”. People in opposition are bought over by regimes (in power), he says.
“Ever since I was born, I remained with him (senior Badal), until all this happened at the fag end of our lives a few years back (Manpreet’s parting ways with SAD in 2011).”
Yet, he betrays a soft corner for the CM: “We do not have any personal issue or confrontation. We meet at family functions like brothers do.”
He adds, “Ever since I was born, I remained with him (senior Badal), until all this happened at the fag end of our lives a few years back (Manpreet’s parting ways with SAD in 2011).”
Gurdas was spotted at a restaurant in the town, flanked by state cops as security and an escort vehicle. Manpreet prides himself at not using the frills of power even when he was a minister.
Gurdas acknowledges that. “My son is against my using such privileges, but, you see, it is all the government’s arrangement for security purposes,” he says. About the beacon, he suggests, “This red bulb should be for ambulances and other emergency escort services,” before taking his seat in the front and moving on.