Walking though the villages of Talwandi Sabo segment during campaigning, Aam Aadmi Party candidate Baljinder Kaur, 31, is banking on her bonafide credentials, support of the women she claims, besides the anti-incumbency factor against the sitting MLA.
“Chah-paani di sewa, behne? (Will you care for tea or water, sister?),” asks a woman, hugging Baljinder and grasping her hands at Bhagi Vandar village, 6 km from Talwandi Sabo. She exchanges greetings, hops over a drain and rests her foot on a wooden log to tie the laces of her sneakers as supporters raise AAP flags and slogans.
- Name: Baljinder Kaur
- Age: 31
- Party: Aam Aadmi Party
- Education: MPhil (English)
- Role Model: Guru Granth Sahib (stresses on this)
- Poll quotient: Projecting herself as the only local among all the candidates in fray; insists she is a self-made politician.
- By the way: Avoids all types of sweets, even her tea is sugarless.
Prior to joining politics, Baljinder was a lecturer of English at Mata Gujri College in Fatehgarh Sahib. “I always wanted to do something for the cause of people, especially women. You can see women hardly get opportunities in politics as there is no levelplaying field,” she says.
She reaches Bhagi Vandar village at 1.30 pm after spending around more than three hours at the previous village, knocking on at every door she comes across. She enquires about the health of the elderly ontheway.
She is accompanied by a strong army of nearly 100 young volunteers. The young volunteers, many of them still in school, distribute party’s journal, ‘AAP di Kranti’ (AAP’s revolution), carrying a banner headline — ‘Rajniti ch naviya paida uleek rahi hai Prof Baljinder Kaur (Prof Baljinder Kaur, charting a new course in politics)’.
Samaa te kudrat bauht vaddi cheez hai, te badlaav kudrat daa hi roop hai (Time and nature are too big, and change is part of nature)
Besides the rural voters, she understands the worth of about 18,000 votes each in Talwandi Sabo and Rama Madni towns, where she holds late-evening meetings daily, which at times stretch till midnight.
For Baljinder, her rivals— Jeet Mohinder Sidhu of the SAD and Khushbaaz Singh Jatana of the Congress— are outsiders. “I belong to Jaga Ram Tirath village in Talwandi Sabo. You enquire where do these two (Sidhu and Jatna) belong to?” she says.
THE ELECTORAL PAST
The electoral contest is not new to her, as she unsuccessfully contested the by-poll in 2014 from here, in which Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu ( who had resigned as the Congress MLA) of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) had won and she stood third.
“A by-election is most of the times won by a ruling party. The entire official machinery, the ministers, MLAs and the ‘jathedars’ were spread across the village in the constituency, getting those works done, which were pending for years,” she explains the reasons behind her earlier drubbing. “I salute those 14,000 people who voted for me in the by-poll despite the tremendous pressure that the ruling party had mounted on the common people,” she said.
Baljinder is betting on the people, especially women, she says are with her, brushing aside the talks of influence of money and muscle power in polls. She talks about drug deaddiction and women empowerment, the areas she says will be her priority.
GIVES GO-BY TO FATHER’S LEANINGS
Baljinder has given a go-by to her father Darshan Singh’s legacy, who had leanings towards the Sikh radical elements. She makes it sure that her father liaison only within his close circles when it comes to seeking support for her.
“Of course, I do not follow blindly any ideology even if it is that of my father. That proves I have my own viewpoint in politics, which I find in consonant with the ideology of the AAP,” Baljinder says.
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