Another Badal boosts Congress

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Manpreet Badal . . . from Bulle Shah to Badal bashing.

Moga: “Unni-ikki” (19-21) is a popular Punjabi term for a tragedy. Rather, a tragedy which can be averted, albeit narrowly.

At the Congress’ well-attended public meeting here on Friday, this cliché is heard repeatedly. Most of the speakers warn the gathering that an electoral “unni-ikki” can happen this time, courtesy AAP.

As we reach the venue, flex boards greet us with the slogan, ‘Chahundahai Punjab, Captain di Sarkar’.

Apart from Capt Amarinder Singh, the only prominent face on these boards is that of Manpreet Badal. Although he left the SAD several years ago, he is ironically shown wearing the trademark Akali-blue turban.

Despite humid weather, the queues in front of the stalls offering mutter paneer and chana with chapatti are getting longer. So is the crowd inside the palace’s hall.

Wearing a pink turban, Manpreet is sitting on the stage. With his thumbs pressed against the eyes, he will patiently listen to the speakers for the next two-three hours. This is the 46th public meeting he is attending while canvassing for the Congress.

Local party leader Jagdarshan Kaur articulates the AAP threat. “We should have no gila–shikva (grievances) this time. Kiteyunni-ikkina ho jave AAP vali (Let’s ensure there is no tragedy due to AAP),” she says.

It’s already 1:30 pm. Visitors have started moving out of the hall. By now, the disposable plastic plates at the food stalls have run out of stock. As Manpreet’s name is announced, people rush back into the hall, with their meals wrapped in newspapers.

Manpreet starts on a lyrical note with Baba Bulle Shah and ‘Jugni’. He then begins a round of Badal-bashing by narrating how Aurangzeb loved to call himself Alamgir, Khurram as Shah Jahan, Saleem as Jehangir.

“All of them imagined themselves as the lords of the world. But none of them is revered today. Please remind Sukhbir of that,” he says.

Every speaker at the event calls Captain the next CM. So does Manpreet. But unlike others, AAP doesn’t find a mention in his address.

He appears convinced that Amarinder is the only leader who can save the state. He recites, “Jin rahon mein gardanekati, jin rahon mein asmateluti, vo dhoondti hain kisi Mir-e-Karvanko (Paths that have witnessed bloodshed and rape are looking for the saviour of caravans).”

“Amarinder is Punjab’s Mir-e-Karvan,” he declares.

The speeches over, the audience leaves the hall.

Standing under a flex board, Galoti village resident Sukhdev Singh says, “The Congress has a formidable contender from the Dharamkot seat, Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh. Par AAP da vizorhai. Koi unni-ikkina ho jave (But AAP also enjoys influence. Hope there would be no tragedy).”