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Last Updated : May 07, 2019 07:42 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Lok Sabha polls Phase 6 | Jat votes key amid BJP-Congress ego tussles and a beleaguered INLD in Haryana

Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar has maneuvered extensively through the constituency, with elaborate campaigns and public speeches

Aakriti Handa @aakriti_handa
File Pic: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar
File Pic: Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar

The northern state of Haryana sends 10 MPs to Lok Sabha. All the 10 constituencies are set to vote in the sixth phase of the ongoing elections, with a total of 1.8 crore voters. Of these, 6 lakh are new voters.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had polled 34.8 percent votes, winning seven seats, while the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) won two seats and the Congress finished third with one seat.

This time, in the fray, is also Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has entered into an alliance with Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP). According to their seat-sharing strategy, the AAP is going to contest on three seats, leaving seven for JJP. At the joint press conference, Dushyant had said the two parties will fight together in the Haryana sssembly polls too.

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The JJP is a progeny of the two-month-long power struggle among the Chautalas and infighting in the INLD. After being expelled from the party for alleged indiscipline, Hisar MP Dushyant, along with younger brother Digvijay and father Ajay, broke off from INLD and commissioned the JJP in December 2018.

Dushyant is the grandson of former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, who along with son Ajay is lodged at Delhi’s Tihar Jail over the junior basic teachers (JBT) scam. Meanwhile, the INLD is under the supervision of Om Prakash Chautala’s younger son, Abhay Chautala.

This fallout will definitely affect the INLD, which is the biggest Opposition party in the state and polled 24.4 percent votes in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The impact will be heightened in Jat-dominated seats like Rohtak, Sonipat, Bhiwani and Hisar.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), better employment opportunities (44.61 per cent), agricultural loan availability (40.36 per cent) and higher price realization for farm products (33.80 per cent) were the top three voter priorities in the state.

Let's take a look at some of the important battles in Haryana.

Kurukshetra

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has maneuvered extensively through the constituency, with elaborate campaigns and public speeches from the campus of the Kurukshetra University.

The seat gives an edge to BJP with over three lakh Jat voters, 1.25 lakh Brahmins, nearly 1 lakh Sainis and as many from Ror community, the descendants of Maratha soldiers who had fought in the historic battle of Panipat.

The BJP has fielded Nayab Saini from the seat, for whom Khattar has campaigned extensively, with the mantra: Mayi baara (May 12), BJP dobara and Teyees mayi (23 May), Congress gai.

The only threat facing the BJP in Kurukshetra is a challenge from a breakaway faction called the Lok Suraksha Party, headed by rebel Kurukshetra MP Rajkumar Saini.

Saini is looking to mobilise Dalit and minority votes, which will upset the BJP’s applecart.

Hisar

Hisar is going to witness a triangular clash of the dynasts. The BJP has fielded Brijendra Singh, an IAS officer and son of Birender Singh, Steel Minister in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet. Both PM Modi and Birendra Singh have campaigned for his son. Brijendra’s great-grandfather was Sir Chotu Ram, the great peasant leader from Haryana, and this lineage could help him.

Against him in the fray are sitting MP Dushyant Chautala of the JJP and Congress’ Bhavya Bishnoi.

Also Read: Dynasty Watch| The Chautalas of Haryana battle infighting and hurt egos going into LS polls

Bhavya is the son of Kuldeep Bishnoi who has a reputation of joining and abandoning parties, living up to his father and former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal’s epithet of ‘Aya Ram, Gaya Ram’.

Sonipat

With the BJP winning the high-decibel Jind assembly bypoll, the saffron party is confident of winning the Sonipat parliamentary constituency. The Jind bypoll, which concluded in January this year, is also an indication of a weak Congress in the seat with party national spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala finishing third after JJP’s Digvijay Chautala.

Again, the Jind bypoll victory was significant for the BJP, which won the seat for the first time ever, wresting it from the INLD and Congress.

At stake is the political career of two-time former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is contesting from Sonipat.

Rohtak

Meanwhile, Bhupinder Singh's son, Deepender Hooda, is in the fray from Rohtak, and is seeking a fourth straight victory from the Hooda citadel. The Jat leader is facing competition from former MP Arvind Sharma, a prominent Brahmin leader.

Bhiwani

Bhiwani will see a tight contest between sitting BJP MP Dharambir and Congress’ Shruti Choudhry. Former MP from Haryana, Shruti is the granddaughter of former state chief minister Bansi Lal and daughter of Tosham MLA Kiran Choudhry. In 2014, Shruti had finished third, losing out to Dharambir by a margin of 1.3 lakh votes and Rao Bahadur Singh of INLD by a meagre 7,000 votes.

The infighting in the INLD might cost them their bastion with the Jat votes splitting and going to the Congress.

In the Bhiwani constituency, Jats form the largest majority followed by the Yadavs, Brahmins, Gurjars, Mahajans and Punjabis. With the INLD in shambles and week campaigning by its offshoot, experts suggest that Jat votes will go to the Congress and the non-Jat votes will go to the BJP.

Gurgaon

Three assembly constituencies of the Mewat region – Punhana, Ferozepur Jhirka and Nuh – are a part of the Gurgaon parliamentary constituency. The Mewat region is dominated by Meo Muslims and pans across north-western India, in Haryana and Alwar and Bharatpur in Rajasthan.  The INLD, which had won two assembly seats in 2014 from Mewat district, are now facing a grim situation with its Meo Muslim legislators defecting to the Congress.

Meanwhile, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi campaigned on the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) grounds in Gurugram in an attempt to mobilise urban voters from the Gurgaon constituency, who overwhelmingly voted for the BJP in the previous elections.

This has also made the fight largely bipolar – between Congress candidate Captain (retd) Ajay Singh Yadav and BJP’s sitting MP Rao Inderjit Singh – both strong Ahir (Yadav) leaders. As a result, the Yadav vote is expected to split in this seat.

Faridabad

While the AAP did not win a single seat in the 2014 general election, it managed to garner 50,000-60,000 votes on almost all seats. Even if the party is not able to wrest any seat, it is bound to pose a serious threat to contenders in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ambala and Sirsa. AAP has fielded state party chief Naveen Jaihind from Faridabad.
First Published on May 7, 2019 07:42 pm
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