Though the Shiromani Akali Dal as well as the Congress party is yet to take the call, eager voters of Bathinda parliament constituency have already started smelling a fierce contest between Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Manpreet Singh Badal for a second consecutive time in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. And if things go as per the general conjecture, the direct contest between two rival Badals will certainly make Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency one of the hottest political seats of the country, leaving the heartbeats of all having stakes in it rendering high. Harsimrat, who is the Union minister for Food Processing and Industries in Modi cabinet, had defeated Captain Amarinder Singh’s son Raninder Singh in 2009 with a margin of about 1.2 lakh votes, when he had on Congress ticket. The next time in 2014, Congress fielded People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) president Manpreet Singh Badal on its poll symbol but he lost to Harsimrat but this time the victory margin of Harsimrat was slashed to just 19,330 votes. And now, Harsimrat is a minister in Centre and Manpreet Singh Badal is the finance minister in Punjab. He had won 2017 Vidhan Sabha polls on Congress ticket after merging his PPP into the Congress. He defeated the Akali Dal’s Sarup Chand Singla from Bathinda (urban) assembly segment.
Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, if one asks, would claim that the party was yet to decide the names of the candidates adding that it was to be done in consultation with the members of Core Committee and Political Affairs Committee.
However, during a recent rally organised in the city to welcome some Congress leaders joining the party fold, the speakers from the stage were not only projecting Harsimrat as the party candidate for upcoming polls but also made her acknowledge their promise of ensuring her victory with a margin of one lakh votes. It is learnt that Harsimrat has started taking meetings of party activists belonging to different districts, with further assigning them poll campaign related responsibilities in Bathinda. Bathinda Lok Sabha seat is comprised of nine assembly constituencies of which four are with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), three with Congress and only two with Akali Dal including Lambi which is represented by Parkash Singh Badal. As the Akali Dal witnessed disheartening results in 2017, it was being spread that Harsimrat could shift either shift to Ferozepur constituency or opt not to contest for the third time. Breaking the notion, Harsimrat has now started claiming that there was no reason for her to shift to another constituency as she was confident of her performance in past 10 years, but with a mention that her candidature was yet to be decided by the party. Witnessing Harsimrat again turned active some of the Congress leaders have also approaching the party to field them against ‘Badal Bahu’. While the names of some Youth Congress leaders were taking rounds, Punjab health minister Brahm Mohindra’s son Mohit on Thursday applied for the party ticket to contest Bathinda seat.As Harsimrat, being the two-time MP and wife of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Congressmen are not much enthusiastic about Mohindra junior’s name as they are hopeful of party fielding some heavy weight to counter ‘Badal Bahu’. After Pawan Bansal and Navjot Kaur Sidhu already expressed unwillingness to contest Bathinda, citing poor rapport with voters of the region, the party insiders find only Manpreet Badal qualifying the test to match the stature of Akali candidate.
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