She was hoping for a Congress ticket, but Rajdeep Kaur, 41, has now filed his nomination papers as an independent candidate from Fazilka. Her name may not ring a bell, because she’s better known as “Rocky di bhen”, sister of slain gangster-politician Jaswinder Singh Rocky.
Rocky, who had finished a close second on his electoral debut as an independent last time, was shot dead allegedly by rivals in the business of crime near Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh on April 30 last year. It was at his bhog (memorial prayers) that Rajdeep came into the limelight, and supporters of “Robinhood Rocky” — who was known to operate a parallel system of justice besides carrying out public welfare programmes — declared that she would contest the polls. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Sher Singh Ghubaya, who represents the area as part of the Ferozepur Lok Sabha segment, was present.
While Rocky was said to have been backed tacitly by the SAD in 2012 — when SAD ally BJP’s Surjit Kumar Jyani won — she had sought the Congress ticket. “Rocky’s well-wishers want me to carry on his public welfare works through politics,” she said.
The equation has turned even murkier this time, as the Congress ticket has gone to the SAD MP’s son, Davinder Ghubaya. The MP, too, has all but officially switched allegiances. The BJP has fielded Jyani again.
Rajdeep, in her well-attended rally before filing the papers on Wednesday, was particularly ballistic against the Ghubayas: “Whosoever remained in power did nothing for the poor of the region. A live example is Akali MP Sher Singh Ghubaya who being in power for more than two decades (as MLA or MP) did nothing for the poor, including Rai Sikhs, the community in whose names he bargained for the Congress ticket for his son.”
Rajdeep, a baptised Sikh, explained why she is in politics: “It is the most powerful tool to serve people. Whoever wishes to join it, must follow that in letter and spirit.”
She keeps it simple, drawing mostly on the appeal of her brother, who was booked at various police stations in at least 23 cases, including those of murder, and had been acquitted in 18.
Rocky had been eyeing a life primarily as a politician for some years, hobnobbing across parties. He had taken a step towards that life in 2012 and had polled over 39,000 votes, but lost to Jyani by merely 1,600 votes from his native town. During the 2011 floods in Fazilka, he had earned goodwill in the border villages by distributing essential commodities much before the state government could come to the people’s aid.
In 2013, he was photographed with the then Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde in a delegation with Congressmen Raj Kumar Verka and Ravneet Singh Bittu on the Parliament premises in New Delhi. He was often resolving disputes of locals in Fazilka, and in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he openly supported Akali nominee Sher Singh Ghubaya who won.
Born in a farming family at Chugian Kesar Singh village, Rocky did his schooling from Fazilka. His tryst with crime, that too within the family, came when he was barely 20, when he got a case registered against his brother, Romi Singh, for firing a shot at their father, Mahinder Singh. Romi remained in jail but was later acquitted. He was unmarried, while his mother had once asked for security over a threat from Rocky, though she later settled their disputes before the 2012 polls. The mother, Harminder Kaur, has filed her papers as covering candidate for Rajdeep.