Veteran Brahmpura wages his 'final battle' against formidable Cong opponent

  • Harkirat Singh, Hindustan Times, Tarn Taran
  • Updated: Apr 28, 2014 23:18 IST

At the fag-end of his political career, his mentor and guru, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal ensured that his most trusted 'Majhail', often referred to as 'Majhe da jarnail' (general of Majha) gets a feel of the 'waddi larrai' (big battle), which had eluded him till now.

So at 76, the battle-scared Ranjit Singh Brahmpura was chosen by Badal to be the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate for the Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha constituency. From panchayat elections to block samiti elections to assembly polls, the old Akali warhorse may have seen it all but he is well aware that this is the 'ultimate and final battle', which he has to win at all costs.

He is fully aware of the importance of this 'panthic' seat from where the Akalis have never lost an election since 1977.

His personal prestige is also at stake. Had it not for the trust that the chief minister has in him, Brahmpura could well have been sitting at home after his loss in the 2012 assembly polls from the Khadoor Sahib assembly segment.

He is not just up against a formidable Congress opponent, Harminder Singh Gill but also has to content with enemies within his own party.

The veteran Akali leaders differences with Tarn Taran MLA, Harmeet Singh Sandhu and with Khem Karan MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha are an open secret. Though the two have been seen campaigning for Brahmpura their sincerity will only be known if the Akalis get a lead from their respective assembly segments.

Development agenda

Having covered the length and breadth of this constituency, which stretches across the Beas and Sutlej rivers into Doaba and Malwa, Brahmpura is now concentrating on the areas where the opposition is on a strong footing. These include the Congress strongholds of Kapurthala and Sultanpur Lodhi and Khadoor Sahib, Baba Bakala and Jandiala besides parts of Tarn Taran.

Campaigning in Daleke village near Tarn Taran, Brahmpura seeks votes on the agenda of development done by the state government. He is careful not to touch upon the drug problem which his Congress rival, Gill, has successfully taken before the electorate.

"Badal sahib hi sade hamdard ne (Badal knows our problems). These Congresswala's have ruined Punjab and given us nothing," he tells the gathering at sarpanch, Nishan Singh's house.

He then turns to BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and says, "The NDA is coming to power and Modi will be the PM. So do not waste your vote by voting for the Congress. Punjab will benefit with a friendly government at Delhi."

Later when questioned about the drug problem in the area, Brahmpura toed his party line by saying, "The Centre is in-charge of the borders. Drugs are smuggled from across the border, so it is the Centre that is responsible for this problem. Modi sahib will ensure that the country's borders are not used for such crimes."

Brahmpura essentials

Vehicle: White-coloured Toyota Fortuner

Core team: His son Ravinder Singh was chief campaign manager. Sitting MLAs or halqa in-charges planned the campaign in respective areas.

Rustic touch: As the constituency is rural dominated, Brahmpura spoke in chaste Punjabi.

By the way: After a heavy breakfast he would set off on his campaign. Lunch was generally at the home of a supporter enroute the campaign trail.

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