Brother vs brother, with a royal twist

Chandigarh : With brothers ending up on opposing sides, the Jan 30 Punjab assembly elections promise many a twist to the political tale.

In the past week, the biggest ‘coup’ was that of Malwinder Singh, the younger brother of Punjab Congress chief and former chief minister Amarinder Singh, quitting the Congress in disgust after being denied the party ticket for the assembly polls.

He was upset over being ignored for a ticket while Amarinder’s son, Raninder Singh, got one from the Samana constituency, which Malwinder had been nursing for years.

That was not all in this royal tale (Amarinder and Malwinder belong to the erstwhile royal family of Patiala). Within hours of rebelling against the Congress, Malwinder was in front of the shutterbugs – hugging ruling Shiromani Akali Dal president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal.

Malwinder joining the Akalis just days ahead of the crucial assembly poll, in which neither the Akali Dal nor the Congress seem to be absolutely confident of a clear victory, may not make much of a dent in the Congress votebank but it did give the Akalis just the political fillip they needed.

A visibly happy Sukhbir Badal said: “His joining the Akali Dal is like an atom bomb for the Congress. They will be wiped out in these elections.”

Amarinder responded: “This will turn out to be a damp squib for them. They might show him as a trophy for some time. He will himself feel suffocated with them.”

Incidentally, Amarinder Singh was himself an Akali Dal leader for nearly a decade before he parted company with Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal and later joined the Congress.

Though Malwinder has not been fielded by the Akalis in this election, they are sure to use him politically to embarrass Amarinder and the Congress.

The other front where two brothers have come out on opposite sides is the contest for the Lambi assembly seat from Muktsar district.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is pitted against his estranged younger brother Gurdas Badal of the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), the new outfit floated by the chief minister’s nephew and Gurdas Badal’s son Manpreet Badal.

Before falling out with his uncle over ideological differences on subsidies and managing Punjab finances, Manpreet was finance minister in the Badal government till October 2010.

Both brothers, Parkash and Gurdas, are contesting not only against each other but also against their first cousin, Maheshinder Singh Badal, who has been fielded by the Congress for the Lambi seat.

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