Punjab witnessed one of its toughest electoral contests in Bathinda as Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal strived to retain the Lok Sabha constituency for the third time in a row by repulsing a multi-cornered attack from rival candidates. Pitted against the Akali Dal leader were Congress' Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, Aam Aadmi Party's Baljinder Kaur and Punjab Democratic Alliance's Sukhpal Khaira.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal's election speeches in villages across the dusty tracts of Bathinda were marked by "gali, naali and dharamshala" (street, drain and community centre) issues. But as the poll campaign picked up, the candidates targeted each other, with Harsimrat Kaur Badal calling her opponents "fugitives" and Warring counter-attacking the Badal family for the 2015 sacrilege and police firing incidents.
"Three fugitives have been fielded against me. One belongs to ruling party and two others are in opposition”, Harsimrat Kaur Badal had said while addressing a public meeting in her constituency.
Traditionally, Bathinda seat, which is also known as Punjab's cotton belt, has been considered as the stronghold of the Akali Dal as its candidates have won from there on eight occasions. Harsimrat Kaur Badal had defeated Raninder Singh, son of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, by over one lakh votes in 2009 and repeated the feat with a smaller margin of 19,395 votes against Manpreet Badal in 2014.