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Meet the new ‘Gen D’ of Punjab politics

Fresh crop of dynasts may see soft launch in 2019 LS polls, emerging from behind the curtains to play active role in politics

punjab Updated: Aug 11, 2018 10:47 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab politics,Punjab,Capt Amarinder
Nirvan Singh, Arjun Badal and Mehtab Khaira.

From royalty to the “aam aadmi”, dynasty is destiny in Punjab politics. The sons are rising early, managing political battles of their fathers along with jobs. Even college education!

The fresh crop of Generation D (dynasty) may see soft launch in next year’s Lok Sabha polls, emerging from behind the curtains to play an active role in politics.

When chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh coined the ‘one family, one ticket’ rule in last year’s state elections, it also kept his only son, Raninder Singh, out of the contest. Raninder has lost two elections and Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur, a three-time MP (member of Parliament) from Patiala, is again the likely ticket contender to the “family seat” for next year’s Lok Sabha polls.

NIRVAN NEW PATIALA ROYAL ON THE BLOCK

So the new Patiala Royal on the block being groomed for state politics is Captain’s grandson, Nirvan Singh, younger son of his daughter Jaya Inder Kaur. After completing history honours from St Stephen’s College in Delhi, Nirvan pursued post graduation in international relations from a UK university.

He then worked for a Delhi-based firm, RepIndia, to learn the ropes of social media management to join the poll bandwagon of his grandfather ahead of the 2017 Punjab elections.

The credit for making the 77-year-old CM, who earlier found it difficult to handle a smartphone, a Twitter enthusiast goes to Nirvan. He was seen by Amarinder’s side throughout his campaign hemmed by poll strategist Prashant Kishor.

Now, he is busy making up for Captain’s on-ground absence in Punjab with his “virtual” presence. With tweets and Facebook posts, Amarinder is taking on his detractors, waging Twitter wars and publicising daily government meetings, policies and programmes.

But Nirvan is not media-savvy like his grandfather. “I am just helping out my grandfather in handling social media as a family member. I have not thought about contesting elections so far,” he says.

MANPREET’S SON ARJUN ‘A PILLAR OF SUPPORT’

For finance minister Manpreet Badal, his 22-year-old son, Arjun Badal, has been a “pillar of support during my dark days” in politics. Arjun, who is pursuing his graduation in history at the Cambridge University in UK, has missed both school and college to be by his father’s side ever since he rebelled against his uncle and then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and cousin, Sukhbir, after he became the SAD president.

“He came down missing his school and college when my chips were down and I was almost alone. But he is not likely to enter politics,” he says. For now, good economics is good politics for the family.

“We are a landed family. But if we live off our inheritance, we are likely to be poor. I tell him both me and his grandfather (Gurdas Badal) did not work. He will need a job or business to support the family,” Manpreet says.

MEHTAB KHAIRA A DYNAST FROM ‘AAM AADMI’ PARTY

A dynast is also from the Aam Aadmi Party, which came on slogan of doing away with dynasty politics.

As he wages a war against his own party leadership after being removed as the leader of opposition, Bholath legislator Sukhpal Singh Khaira, has his son covering his back.

When caught in legal tangles, Khaira’s lawyer son, Mehtab Khaira, is his best help.

Khaira rubbishes the charge of his opponents within the party that he used his recent Bathinda rally as a launch-pad for his son.

“He grew up seeing his grandfather (former minister Sukhjinder Singh) and father struggle in politics. So he is well-entrenched in politics. But Mehtab has been practising law for the last four years and has no plans to join politics,” Khaira says.

Mehtab, 28, says he wants to have his own identity rather than just being known as Khaira’s son. “I went campaigning door to door for him and stand by my father whenever he needs me. But I am interested in law,” he says.

Does that rule out a political foray? “Never say never,” he further says.

First Published: Aug 11, 2018 10:31 IST