A man who started his career as a part-time driver and conductor in a bus company now manages the transport business of the Badals. Lakhbir Singh Lakhi, manager of Orbit Aviation Private Limited, owned by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, is in charge of the orientation course for the Obrit staff.
Under fire after the Moga bus incident, Sukhbir pulled all Orbit buses off road and said the company would resume services only after the staff was imparted training to deal with the passengers in the orientation course. However, the details of the course, which started on Sunday at Bathinda, have not been made public.
Lakhi’s story can be an inspiration for the Orbit staff. Belonging to Handiaya village in Barnala district, Lakhi was introduced to the transport business by his relative Yadwinder Singh Yaddi, an Akali leader from Jaito town and owner of Hargobind Transport Company. Whenever needed, he used to drive buses and also performed the duties of a conductor at times, besides looking after the office of the Hargobind Transport Company.
Son of a retired assistant sub-inspector in the Punjab Police, Lakhi was also selected as a police constable, but he walked out of the job during the training period. He tried to run a pesticide shop and also worked with a private company in Barnala during his early days. But destiny had something else in store for him.
Though he never went to college, Lakhi mastered all streams of the transport business. His luck shined after Yaddi referred his name to the Badals to look after their transport business. Soon after chief minister Parkash Singh Badal formed the government in the state in 2007, Lakhi put the Badals’ transport business on a fast track.
Lakhi’s proximity with the Badal family grew and the chief minister, Sukhbir and Harsimrat Badal attended the cremation of his daughter Kiranjot Kaur who was killed in a suspected accidental fire at her in-laws house in May 2009. Sukhbir came in a chopper to attend the wedding of Lakhi’s younger daughter at Barnala in 2011.
Opposition leaders often accuse Lakhi for making key decisions in government. Sources say Lakhi works behind the scene and is actively involved in all functions of the Badals. He also plays an active role during the “Sangat Darshan” programmes of Harsimrat in the Bathinda parliamentary constituency.