FOR ANOTHER 24 hours, Punjabis will be on tenterhooks, trying to read the straws in the wind to decipher how many of the 13 Lok Sabha seats the Congress will win, and how many will fall in the Shiromani Akali Dal's kitty.
But is that the most important question to ask? Of course, the number of seats the SAD-BJP combine wins or Congress bags is important, but a much bigger electoral bomb could be ticking in the state, at least as long as the EVM machines stay sealed.
In the end, it could just be a damp squib and we will be back to asking the standard question — how many seats for the Congress and how many for the SAD-BJP? But if, by some quirk of fate and voters' doing, there is any major upset in Bathinda or/and Patiala, the rest of the numbers game may lose all meaning.
Irrespective of how many seats Akali Dal wins, Harsimrat Kaur Badal must win Bathinda for the Badals to remain relevant to the electoral outcome debate. That would, incidentally, also mean the defeat of Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Priyanka Gandhi and the self-inflicted "political death" of Manpreet Singh Badal.
Irrespective of how many seats the Congress party wins, Preneet Kaur must win Patiala, failing which we should rush to hog the ring side seat in Punjab politics to watch the dirtiest, ugliest slugfest between Moti Mahal and the House of Navjot Kaur/Singh Sidhus.
If Harsimrat Badal wins, it will be defeat of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Navjot Singh Sidhu, while Raja Warring will be an inconsequential casualty. If she loses, any good show by the Akali Dal will not matter, nor will be imagery of Modi bowing before Badal Sr., and no credit of Congress win in Bathinda will go to Amarinder Singh.
Any major jolt to the political career of these two women has more potential to push the state's politics into a tailspin than the relative seats or vote share of the Congress and the Akali Dal.
In a scenario where Preneet Kaur loses, even the defeat or victory of Sunil Jakhar, pitted against that handpump master bricoleur "Sunny What’s-a-Balakot Deol” will seem lesser news. A defeat of Harsimrat Kaur Badal could force party president Sukhbir Singh Badal to cede more space to second rung leaders and those who he could earlier afford to ignore.
Any adverse result in Ferozepur for the Akali Dal would be an even bigger political explosion, and would look as the final cataclysm after the blows the party has been suffering in the wake of not doing enough to bring to book those guilty of committing sacrilege.
Of all the escape routes and exit plans that CM Amarinder Singh might have formulated in case the results go way too below the Mission 13 bar that he set for himself, not one will be available to him in case his wife fails to retain Patiala. Blaming it on Sidhu might not cut much ice in that scenario, just as no Ghalib verse could come to Manpreet Badal’s aid if Raja Warring bites the dust.
Also, a defeat of Jakhar at the hands of Sunny Deol in Gurdaspur could actually prove far too costly for Amarinder Singh because it will remove the one big buffer between the CM and the wanna-be CM, Navjot Singh Sidhu. A negative result in Gurdaspur could mean Navjot Singh Sidhu claiming an even wider turf in Punjab politics and move more threateningly and tentalisingly close to the CM's chair.
Just imagine the Sidhu'isms that will rain for the benefit of whirring cameras and suckers-for-byte journos — Oh Guru...Thoko Taali!
After May 23, will Punjab see an Exit Poll before bye-elections? Five ministers have already cast Exit Sidhu vote.
As of now, five ministers have already asked Sidhu to exit his ministry. Sidhu, they say, is no match for Amarinder Singh, and certainly not friendly.
Minutes after Punjab finds out the final tally on May 23, it will see the launch of the mother of all exit polls: whether Amarinder Singh ensures Sidhu falls in line or exits the scene, or Sidhu mounts a campaign to ensure that Amarinder Singh makes the exit and leaves the coveted chair to him.
After all, Sidhu lost his money-making richly upholstered king-size chair at the set of a television comedy show and is out looking to snatch a Maharaja-size perch. The moment of reckoning is 24 hours away and Punjab will find out who is guru and who will thoko taali! For someone, it’ll be the last laugh.
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