Bitter Punjab elections divide political families

Politics often make strange bedfellows, but the elections in Punjab have split political families right down the middle. With just a couple of days left for polling, in many constituencies it is an ‘all-out war’ among family members. Those who supported each other to the hilt in the previous polls have turned challengers now. The emergence of many new political outfits has also given air to the dissent brewing within the families.

Punjab’s lone Muslim-dominated segment of Malerkotla in Sangrur is one conspicuous hotbed of sibling rivalry. Two-time Congress MLA Razia Sultana faces an outright challenge from her brother Arshad Dali, an actor and former councilor, who has been roped in by the AAP. Razia is the wife of 1985-batch IPS officer and Punjab DGP (State Human Rights Commission) Mohammad Mustafa.

The foray of AAP into Punjab’s political landscape threw up a formidable alternative for individuals and groups to aggrandise their political ambitions. The AAP, which started from scratch, managed a sizeable groundswell in Punjab, with the entry of leaders battling dissent and individuals from the social fabric. The Nawanshahr segment presents the same story. The 30-year-old Congress candidate, Angad Singh, has a challenger in his uncle, Charanjit Singh, who belongs to AAP.

Four-time Congress MLA from the Batala segment Ashwani Sekhri is locked in a bitter contest with his brother Inder Sekhri on home turf. AAP rebel faction led by Apna Punjab Party chief S S Chottepur, who was expelled as state convener of AAP, gave a ticket to Inder. An uncle and nephew are pitted against each other in the Dera Baba Nanak Assembly segment. In the 2014 general elections, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s daughter-in-law and Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal took on his estranged nephew Manpreet Singh Badal from Bathinda.
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