First local mayor Baljit Singh Bir Behman must have hosted Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal the maximum times, yet not once did anyone from the ruling family campaign for him in his second municipal corporation election.
For the first time, the Badal family is not campaigning anywhere in the civic elections; but in this city, even its achievements are not being counted. No more are the Akalis touting the claims of Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal about bringing Rs 1,600-crore investment to the urban constituency.
The Badal bahu has made rare public appearances in Bathinda since she trailed by 30,000-odd votes in the urban part of this constituency in the Lok Sabha election where her plank was development. After becoming MP, she made odd appearances in villages but almost none in this city where corporation elections were due.
“These are local elections contested on local issues. There is no need for the Badal family to come in,” said city’s first mayor, Baljit Singh, who had a battery of ministers and the ruling family behind him in the 2008 campaign.
The Badals had also canvassed in Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Patiala in the 2012 civic polls.
Even the Bharatiya Janata Party brought its central minister Vijay Sampla to the local campaign rallies, where state party president Kamal Sharma and he sought votes in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is lucky that the rival Congress is not in position to cash on the absence of the Badals from the campaign. Its official Lok Sabha candidate, Manpreet Singh Badal, had led Harsimrat Kaur in the city after
losing on rural votes.
The Congress MC campaign is low profile, as no state party leader is willing to own responsibility of what might be the outcome.
In the absence of Badals, the biggest campaigners to be seen are legislator Sarup Chand Singla for the SAD and former MLA Harmander Singh Jassi for the Congress.
“The city has progressed under the Badals. They are keeping a low profile since the shock defeat of the Akali-BJP alliance in Delhi, a surprise change in approach from the family known otherwise to love campaigning,” said a veteran local Akali leader. firstname.lastname@example.org