A two-time parliamentarian and a member of a family that traces its lineage to 18th century royalty, Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal was among the high-profile Lok Sabha candidates from Punjab in this election.
Harsimrat Kaur defended the Bathinda seat in southern Punjab that voted for the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader in 2009 and 2014, and for the party in five of the last six elections. She faced the Congress’s Amrinder Singh Raja Warring and Baljinder Kaur of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Ms Badal won the election against Congress’s Amrinder Singh Raja Warring as the first runner-up.
Born on July 25, 1966 in New Delhi, Harsimrat Kaur is married to Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the party president and was Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab; his father Parkash Singh Badal is a four-time Chief Minister.
Harsimrat Kaur holds a degree in textile design and is mother to three children – two daughters and a son.
Her political career was prefaced by the launch of Nanhi Chhaan, a non-profit organisation “set up with the objective of addressing… adverse gender ratio, environmental degradation and secularism” in 2008.
She made her political debut the following year, contesting from Bathinda against Raninder Singh, the son of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, and winning by over 1.2 lakh votes.
Ms Kaur retained the seat in 2014, with a dramatically reduced majority. Following her re-election Ms Kaur was made the Union Minister for Food Processing Industries and had to deal with the Maggi noodles controversy of 2015.
The 2019 election season been the toughest yet for the Akali leader, with a decade-long anti-incumbency sentiment threatening the slim lead over her rivals.
The Akali Dal also suffered the fallout of incidents of sacrilege of the Guru Granth Sahib (the Sikh holy book) in 2015 that led to three days of violence and rioting across the state. Parkash Singh Badal (Ms Kaur’s father-in-law) and Sukhbir Singh Badal both faced allegations of corruption.
In addition, the alliance with the BJP that resulted in a comfortable win in the 2012 assembly election was overturned by the Congress and its partners five years later, on the back of voter discontent with issues like drug peddling and farmer suicides at the heart of the campaign.
The 1984 anti-Sikh riots have also been a part of the political debate, with Congress leader Sam Pitroda’s “hua to hua (whatever happened, happened)” remark triggering a furious response from Ms Kaur.
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