If there was a prize for a perfectly coordinated couple, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his wife, Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, would have won it hands down. The HT Power Couple had the audience all ears and smiles as they deftly fielded questions with one seamlessly finishing the answer of the other.
They were colour coordinated too: he in a crisp midnight blue turban and black jacket, and she in a flowing peacock blue tunic and palazzos, a hip makeover of the Akali blue. Harsimrat, who lends oomph to the demure dupatta-on-the-head look, sat smiling quietly until Sukhbir came to the subject of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Even as the deputy CM was speaking about Kejriwal’s dalliances with radical leaders, Harsimrat demolished the AAP leader in three short bursts. “He is opportunistic, dangerous… has dumped every leader who supported him.”
Watch | Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal says she’s chosen to be keep herself in the background as politics has never been her forte.
She was equally spirited in defence of her younger brother and Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia on the issue of drugs. Citing the family tree, she said: “We come from a family that protected Maharaja Ranjit Singh. My great grandfather was the first pradhan of the SGPC. My grandfather was the first revenue minister of Punjab.” Sukhbir stepped into the pause to quip, “Ehna de te kutte vi vegetarian ne,” as the audience burst into laughter.
Countering the criticism of dynastic politics, Sukhbir recounted how he clawed his way into politics despite the initial roadblocks put by his father. “You know he would cut my name from the list of speakers,” he laughed. Continuing on pedigree politics, he said: “Ghora lain lage vi pedigree dekhde ho,” to which Harsimrat added, straight-faced, “You trust a brand. Rahul Gandhi,” sending the audience into splits.
Harsimrat reminded the deputy CM how they were married on the understanding that he would not join politics. Harsimrat, says Sukhbir, was shocked when asked to contest from Bathinda after Capt Amarinder Singh fielded his son Raninder Singh from there, and issued an open challenge to the Badals. “She did not even know Bathinda,” he chuckled.
Harsimrat said now she has to face jibes from everyone in the family. “My children ask ‘why did you produce us’? He (pointing to Sukhbir) tells me he always wanted a wife who would have time for him.” Harsimrat said she wouldn’t like their children to follow in their footsteps. She also dismissed any ambitions to be the first woman chief minister of the state with a vehement: “No, are you kidding?”
When asked to rate her husband, she gave him a generous 15 out of 10. Later, Dr Pramod Kumar, director of the Institute of Development Communication, joked that he knew she would take all the marks back as soon as she reached home.
On who makes the first move in case of a tiff between the couple, Sukhbir declared it was always him. “Manaunda ta main hi haan. It’s a one-way traffic,” he chuckled, as Harsimrat smiled. And the men in the audience suddenly felt a newfound kinship with Kaka ji.