The ruling and rebel Badal families cast their votes in contrasting moods here on Wednesday. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son and deputy Sukhbir Badal, Sukhbir's wife and SAD's Bathinda candidate Harsimrat Kaur, and granddaughter Harkirat came together in a car and appeared to be in a joyful disposition.
But the CM's nephew Manpreet Singh Badal - who had left the SAD and formed his People's Party of Punjab in 2011, but is now the Congress candidate against Harsimrat - was the first to reach at what was locally being called the "VIP booth" at the primary school of Badal village to cast his vote around 8.30am.
Manpreet had come unaccompanied as his wife Vinu Badal had to leave for Goniana Mandi to check reports of disturbance by Akali workers. Vinu and their son Arjun both did not cast their vote as they are not registered.
Coming out of booth, Manpreet launched a direct attack on his paternal uncle, CM Badal, for alleged booth-capturing by Akali workers in several villages of Lambi, which is the CM's assembly segment.
He said 16-17 booths were captured only in Lambi at the start of polling: "It is a shame that they were buying votes in the CM's constituency after over 65 years of Independence. They have been capturing booths too." He hoped that God would come in his favour and the "people of Punjab will elect me to keep up the tradition of backing rebels".
Soon after Manpreet left, the ruling Badals reached the booth with the advantage of a new family vote in Harkirat, who even got the poll panel's appreciation certificate for being a first-time voter. The family showed no nervousness, though their claims differed in degree. While Harsimrat modestly said she was expecting a higher lead this time, the CM said the lead would be 2.25 lakh votes, and Sukhbir took the figure to 3 lakh.
Harsimrat and daughter Harkirat stole all the attention after CM Badal left, Sukhbir was seen waiting for them as they were busy in media interaction.
Sukhbir dismissed the booth-capturing allegations.