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Punjab Election results: ‘Happy’ birthday for Captain Amarinder Singh?

LiveMint logoLiveMint 11-03-2017 Anuja

New Delhi: There is likelihood of one of the two things happening on 11 March at the Moti Bagh Palace in Patiala—either the palace will witness one of the most memorable birthday parties ever or it will be the end of an era of politics as one of the oldest politicians in Punjab will hang in his boots.

Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who turns 75 on Saturday, is awaiting the results of one of the toughest electoral contests of his political career. At the helm of Punjab politics for more than five decades, Captain has high personal stakes in this election.

From getting on to social media, travelling every district of the state, hiring strategist Prashant Kishor as his poll manager, holding a series of on the ground interactions, this was one elections which saw his transition from the “Maharaja” of the erstwhile State of Patiala to “Captain”.

While Captain is contesting from his bastion of Patiala, he has also locked horns in a prestige battle with sitting chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi constituency, a stronghold of the incumbent Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). He had announced early in the campaign last year that this is his last election and he will not contest any other elections after this.

Born in the royal Patiala family, believed to be the only princely state of Punjab that entered politics, Captain is an alumnus of The National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune and the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. A two-time Lok Sabha member, he was Congress’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha until he resigned last year over the SYL (Sutlej Yamuna Link) issue.

People close to him point out that his biggest disappointment in 2012 loss was that Congress’s vote share was just 2% less than the incumbent SAD. To make up for this margin, Captain has brought on board several like minded leaders in the run up to this election including Badal’s estranged nephew, Manpreet Singh Badal, leader of the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), which merged with the Congress last year.

Whether Captain’s meticulous political strategizing and offering a promise of a more people friendly government is good enough to give him a second term in the high office and whether he will truly have a ‘happy’ birthday will be known on Saturday.

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