Badals Lose in Badal: Embarrassing Panchayat Poll Defeat for SAD
Parkash Singh Badal’s relative lost Sarpanch election in Badal village as Congress sweeps Punjab panchayat polls.
The Shiromani Akali Dal's first family has suffered a major embarrassment. A relative of former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal lost the Panchayat election in the family village in Sri Muktsar Sahib district of the state.
Udayveer Singh Dhillon, also known as Udayveer Singh Badal, lost the Sarpanch election in Badal village to Congress-backed candidate Jabarjang Singh Mukha alias Mukha Badal by a margin of 376 votes.
The defeat is particularly embarrassing as the Badal family had actively campaigned for Dhillon. Parkash Singh, his son Sukhbir, and Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal (Parkash Singh’s daughter-in-law) had come down to the village for the election.
This is reportedly the first time the Akali Dal has lost from Badal in the past 25 years.
Badals Vs Badals
The Badal clan put up a show of bonhomie on polling day, with Harsimrat Kaur seeking the blessings of estranged uncle Gurdas Singh Badal, who was at the polling booth at the same time as the family on Sunday, 30 December.
However, Udayveer's defeat was partly because of the support Mukha got from within the Badal clan. Mukha is said to have been backed by Congress leaders – Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal (Gurdas's son) and Maheshinder Singh Badal (first cousin of Parkash Singh).
In some ways, the result was revenge for the 'Congress Badals'. In the 2012 Assembly elections, Maheshinder and Gurdas lost to Parkash Singh from the Lambi Assembly constituency. While Maheshinder was a Congress candidate, Gurdas contested on the ticket of the People's Party of Punjab, which has since merged with the Congress.
Victory of a ‘Commoner’
Even though the Congress is in power in Punjab, the party-backed candidate Mukha was seen as an underdog in Badal village. While Udayveer Singh's family are big landlords in the area, owning about 100 acres of land, Mukha is seen as a ‘commoner’ as his family owns less than ten acres.
Voters reportedly felt that Udayveer Singh, being from a rich family, would mostly be away in Chandigarh instead of focussing on the village, and that Mukha would be more accessible.
The VVIP Village
Located in the Lambi block of Sri Muktsar Sahib district, Badal is known as a VVIP village in Punjab. The importance of the village can be seen from the Badal-Bathinda road that connects the village to Bathinda. There's no other four-lane road in the state that is named after a village.
This road also passes through Sukhbir Badal's palatial residence in Badal village.
The Badals are believed to have invested heavily in the village, which boasts of several educational institutions, schools and even stadia.
Akalis Allege Congress Captured Booths
The Akalis have accused the Congress of capturing booths in the Panchayat elections. Unconfirmed reports have said that Manpreet's vote was cast in Badal village even though he was in Chandigarh at the time.
The polls were also marred by violence, with reports of clashes in Ferozepur and Tarn Taran districts.
Elections were held for 13,726 panchayats on Sunday. According to The Tribune, as many as 46,754 panchayat members out of 83,831 were elected unopposed.
Congress Continues to Dominate Punjab
Congress-backed candidates are reported to have emerged victorious in a vast majority of panchayats. Suspended AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira's sister-in-law Karanbir Kaur was also defeated in the Ramgarh village in Kapurthala district.
Prominent candidates who won include anti-drugs crusader Harjinder Singh Raja, who was elected as the sarpanch of the Dayalpur village in Kapurthala district. Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala's mother Charan Kaur was elected sarpanch in Moosa village of Mansa district.
The Congress' win comes a few months after the party swept the elections to 22 Zila Parishads and 150 Panchayat Samitis in September. It indicates that the party continues to have the upper hand in the state that it had won in the Assembly elections last year.
Opinion polls suggest that the Congress is in a position to win over 10 out of the 13 seats in Punjab in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
(With inputs from The Tribune)
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