Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal may not have encountered a situation of sailing in two boats at the same time in the past. But the assembly election in Haryana has put him in a quandary - whether to go with a long time personal relationship or to opt for another long time political ally.
Badal, 86, is getting politically torn between his party Shiromani Akali Dal's long time ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Haryana's main opposition party now.
While the Akali Dal runs an alliance government with the BJP in Punjab, it also is part of the Narendra Modi government at the centre.
In Haryana, the Akali Dal has an alliance with the INLD. More than that, Badal has been close to the family of former deputy prime minister and Haryana strongman Devi Lal, whose family (led by his son Om Prakash Chautala) leads the INLD.
With the elections to the 90-member Haryana assembly just a month away, Badal will have to decide on whether he will oblige the INLD by canvassing for their candidates and choose to upset the BJP.
The BJP, which earlier used to have an alliance with the INLD in Haryana, is now preparing to go it alone in the coming assembly polls.
In the given circumstances, the BJP leadership in Haryana has asked the party's central leadership to keep Badal at bay as far as campaigning for the INLD is concerned.
The BJP leaders in Haryana know it well that if Badal campaigns for the INLD, it will affect the BJP's chances.
In the recent Lok Sabha elections, Badal had campaigned for the INLD candidates for the Hisar and Sirsa parliamentary seats. Both seats were won by the INLD. In fact, the INLD fielded Charanjit Singh Rori, who was a sitting legislator of the Akali Dal, as its candidate for the Sirsa seat and he won. Haryana has many seats where Sikhs have a significant population and the Akali Dal and Badal could influence those votes.
INLD leader and young MP Dushyant Chautala, who won the Hisar Lok Sabha seat recently and is a great-grandson of Devi Lal, has already declared that Badal will definitely campaign for INLD candidates in Haryana for the assembly polls.
Given the behind-the-scenes pressure from the BJP, Badal has not come out with a categorical stand on whether he will campaign for INLD in Haryana or not. If he chooses to campaign for the INLD, even if he does not say anything against the BJP, it will technically mean that he is opposed to the BJP.
The BJP, whose alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) ended recently, does not want to take any chances in the assembly polls. It would certainly like to see a situation where Badal stays away from the Haryana assembly polls.