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Meet the man who trounced five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in his Lambi bastion | India News – Times of India



NEW DELHI: Not many outside Punjab had heard the name Gurmeet Singh Khudian before March 10, when the state’s assembly election results were declared.
However, the 59-year-old contesting his first assembly election carried out one of the biggest upsets in Punjab’s electoral history – defeating five-time chief minister Parkash Singh Badal from his Lambi bastion in Muktsar district.
Khudian, however, had long nurtured the dream of taking on Badal but had to wait for his time . The AAP leader shares with Amandeep Shukla how he almost got a chance in 2017 to contest against the Akali veteran on a Congress ticket but for a last minute change when Captain Amarinder Singh became the candidate.
Q: You were with Congress earlier. Why did you leave the Congress?
A: I was the Congress district president in the area for around for around five and a half years. I was ready to contest elections in 2017 and even the party leaders had given me the go ahead. However, just days ahead of the nominations the party took a decision and I got a phone call from Capt Amarinder Singh that the high command wanted him to contest. I agreed. He came, contested and left. He did not even thank us and in fact I felt there was some discrimination against our constituency since then.
I wanted to raise issues with Captain Amarinder Singh but a suitable opportunity did not arise. Then the covid wave had also broken out. Meanwhile, the AAP had contacted me, so I took the call to join them.
Q: Do you think you had a chance if the Congress had given you the ticket in 2017?
A: I feel confident that a similar result to what happened this time would have happened in 2017 as well if I was given the chance.
Q: The Badal family was arguably Punjab’s most powerful family. Yet, you have been opposing them for quite long. Why did you decide to oppose them?
A: It was from my father’s (former Akali MP Jagdev Singh) time that our ways became separate. I have been opposing them since the 1990s. In 1991, I had contested Lok Sabha elections from Simranjit Singh Mann’s party. We kept opposing them, sometimes it would be one candidate, sometimes another. None of them could win.
My father had decide to move away from them. There was a feeling in the 1980s that the leadership was not keeping interests of the people in mind.
Q: Did you face any challenges as you opposed the Badal family considering you live in the same district?
A: My village is just at a ten kilometre distance from theirs. There were challenges but we faced them. There were attempts to pressure or placate. But we continued.
Q: You were steadfast in your opposition to the Badals. Why do you think you could not get a Congress ticket?
A: I feel, there could have been some kind of understanding, possibly, it may been more than understanding.
Q: Do you think your victory is a sign that dynasty politics in Punjab is not acceptable to people?
A: The Akali Dal was borne out of struggle. But Parkash Singh Badal, after becoming chief minister, started giving tickets to relatives to enhance his grip. He then gave the presidentship of the party to his son and made it Akali Dal Badal. It became a party of businessmen and relatives. They earned a lot through their businesses but moved away from the people.
If you look at the new assembly, it does not have members of the Badal family. Nor are there MLAs from one clan. There is nobody’s brother-in-law or son-in-law in the assembly. Someone has come from one background and another from elsewhere. If such assemblies are chosen, it will be good for people.
Q: Do you think you could have pulled off this upset even if there was no AAP wave?
A: We are a group of people who had been active in opposing them. This was the first assembly election that I contested and many people who remembered my father said they would vote for me. I got that benefit.
However, the party was definitely a big factor. There was ‘jhaadu’ (AAP symbol broom) everywhere.
The people had got tired of Congress and Akali leaders who would not listen to them and focus on their own businesses.
Now, it is our responsibility to work for people, or we may also face a similar situation. So, we have to work for people now.
Q: Do you expect a reward, a major responsibility after this big victory?
A: I already have a big responsibility. I am the MLA from Lambi. What can be bigger?

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