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Sukhbir Badal's 25-year-rule: resolve or pipedream?

Sunday December 11, 2011 07:16:48 PM, Jaideep Sarin, IANS

Chandigarh: At every rally he addresses in the run-up to the Punjab assembly elections, Shiromani Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal raises the slogan "Raj karaange - Pachi Saal (We will rule for 25 years)", to loud cheers from Akali Dal supporters.

As the state's poll fever warms up in these winter months, Sukhbir's and the Akali rhetoric of ruling Punjab for 25 years is becoming even more shrill.

The background of Sukhbir Badal's inspiration for the 25-year-rule political ambition is the Left's rule in West Bengal for over three decades.

In an election, likely to be held February-March next year for Punjab's 90 assembly seats, which is being fought with Sukhbir Badal at centrestage and his chief minister father Parkash Singh Badal quite willing to do his elderly bit, the polls are being seen as a major test for the young Akali Dal president.

"We will have an Akali Dal rule for 25 years. We will not leave for 25 years. We deserve to rule. Sardar Parkash Singh Badal has done so much work for Punjab," Sukhbir keeps reminding the crowds at most of his rallies these days, almost sounding as if he is demanding it by political right.

Ironically, the stark difference in outlook of the father-son duo is that the father's slogan used to be 'Raj nahin Sewa' (Not rule but service) whereas the son's slogan is clearly 'Raj Karaange pachi saal' (we will rule for 25 years).

The opposition Congress leaders term Sukhbir's 25-year-rule ambition as nothing more than a pipedream.

"Sukhbir's dream of ruling Punjab for another 25 years is simply a day dream. It is no longer a feudal set up, but a lively democracy. Only a raving and wild mind can imagine like that. Sukhbir picked up the idea from the leftist rule in West Bengal. In fact, he tried to make a beginning with the panchayat and local bodies elections when he used muscle power so wantonly that no opposition candidate was allowed to win," Punjab Congress president and former chief minister Amarinder Singh told IANS.

Congress leaders cited statistics that could make Sukhbir's dream turn sour.

"He got a crushing defeat in parliamentary elections (in 2009), losing eight of the 13 seats that his (Akali Dal-BJP) alliance contested. He lost in 67 (out of 90) assembly segments," Amarinder Singh said.

Congress leaders say that Sukhbir Badal, who is also Punjab's home minister, has deliberately not allowed over 20,000 proclaimed offenders to be arrested across Punjab.

"There is a strong probability that he might use the criminal elements in the assembly elections. What he does not realize is that Punjab is not a West Bengal under Left rule or a Bihar. The Election Commission will not allow him to use muscle power like he did in panchayat and local bodies elections," a senior Congress leader said.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at









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