Chandigarh: Election fever has arrived in Punjab and politics is clearly a family affair judging by the number of relatives of politicians who've got tickets. It's a phenomenon that cuts across party lines – Congress, BJP and Akali Dal.
While parties insist they give tickets to candidates who are mostly likely to win, a roll call of candidates reveals that in Punjab, it simply pays to have family in politics.
“It cannot be my decision or Sukhbir's decision. All decisions are taken together by the party. That is what was decided by everyone,” said Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Several contestants for the 117 seats in the state have political ties and it starts at the very top. The Congress frontrunner for Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has a son who has got a ticket, and the party chief Rajinder Kaur Bhattal's son-in-law too is a contestant.
In the Akali Dal, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's entire family, from his son to daughter-in-law and son-in-law have got tickets.
Even in the BJP, the story's no different with cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu's wife getting a ticket.
Even as parties insist that candidates have been decided on the sole criteria of winnability and merit, it has become very difficult for an outsider to break into the closed ranks of the top political families of Punjab.