Punjab Key Candidates]
Bhattal is the state’s only woman chief minister so far. She is contesting from Lehra, a seat she had won five times since 1992 until the previous election in which Parminder Singh Dhindsa of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) emerged victorious. Though the veteran leader has campaigned hard, she again faces a tough fight. Her parents Hira Singh Bhattal and Harnam Kaur were freedom fighters, who fought against both the British and the rulers of princely states. Bhattal was pushed into politics at the age of 27 but has not looked back since. A hardcore Congress loyalist, she opposed militancy in Punjab, which brought her close to then chief minister Beant Singh. In November 1996, she became the chief minister but remained in the saddle for only three months when the 1997 elections were announced and the Akali Dal came into power. During Capt Amarinder Singh’s first term as CM from 2002 to 2007, Bhattal sought his removal in 2005, and staged a protest in Delhi for over a month until she was made the deputy CM.