Old rivals, new parties fight intense battle in Haryana

The entry of three new parties — AAP, Jannanayak Janata Party of Dushyant Chautala and Loktantra Suraksha Party of former BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini — has made the power struggle more fierce and interesting, writes Rajendra Khatry

In the land of Mahabharata an intense political battle is being fought in Haryana. The entry of three new parties-Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Jannanayak Janata Party (JJP) of Dushyant Chautala and Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) of the former BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini has made the power struggle more fierce and interesting.

For the first time the father son-duo of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Deepender Singh Hooda is contesting the Lok Sabha elections in Haryana together from separate constituencies. MP for three consecutive terms from Rohtak constituency, Deepender, who survived the Modi wave in 2014, is in the field again, posing a stiff challenge to all other parties.

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has lost much of its glory and power after its break up and is struggling for survival. Both INLD and the newly formed JJP are claiming to carry forward the legacy of the great late Deputy Priume Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal. Out on furlough for 21 days, Devi Lal’s grandson Ajay Chautala, serving a 10-yer jail term in the JBT teachers recruitment scam is canvassing hard for his JJP which is contesting the Lok Sabha poll for the first time.  

AAP is also contesting the Lok Sabha poll in Haryana for the first time in alliance with the JJP. Under the seat sharing formula, while AAP is contesting on three seats, JJP has taken up the challenge on seven seats. The BSP, which broke its alliance with the INLD, has now forged alliance with the newly formed party-LSP of former BJP MP Raj Kumar Saini.

However much the political leaders deny, the fact is all the elections in Haryana, from the Panchayat to the Lok Sabha are based on caste politics. Caste equation, caste combination, caste consideration and caste politics play an important role in choosing the respective candidates for contesting the poll.

The caste factor is again going to play a crucial role in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in Haryana. All the parties have selected their candidates very carefully, keeping the caste majority in that particular Lok Sabha constituency in mind.This is going to make the clash between candidates of rival parties more fierce on inl the 10 LS seats in Haryana.

Jats have the single majority votes In Haryana. More than 17 per cent of the total electorates in Haryana belong to the Jat community. On the other hand the Brahmin, Punjabi and Bania community together have around 30 per cent of the votes. The Other Backward Caste (OBC) and Yadavas account for 25 per cent. More than 20 per cent of the voters are from the Scheduled caste and scheduled Caste communities.

Two of the 10 seats in Haryana-that of Ambala and Sirsa are reserved for the Scheduled caste people. Women empowerment remains a distant dream in Haryana. Traditionally a male bastion with a skewed sex ratio and high rate of crime against women, the state has a poor record of fielding women candidates.This time, there are only six women candidates in the fray for the 10 seats.

The JJP has a lone woman candidate in Swati Yadav, who is contesting from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh. This, after party leader Dushyant Chautala announced last month that his party will field at least three women candidates.

Sunita Duggal, a former Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, is the only woman candidate of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party from Sirsa (reserved) seat. Even the Congress, which promises 33 per cent eservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies, gave the ticket to only two women candidates-Kumari Selja from Ambala (reserved) and state legislative party leader Kiran Chaudhary’s daughter Shruti from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh. Both women belong to political dynasties.

The BSP-LSP alliance has fielded Raj Bala Saini from Sonepat and Shashi Saini from Kurukshetra. Both are contesting from Raj Kumar Saini’s LSP. Of the 131 MPs elected from the state since it was carved out of Punjab in 1966, women were elected to Parliament only nine times.

Of them, Selja, was elected four times, twice from Ambala (reserved) and twice from Sirsa (reserved), Kailsho Saini from Kurukshetra twice, Chandrawati, Shruti and Sudha Yadav represented Bhiwani, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh and Mahendergarh seats once, respectively.The constituencies of Karnal, Rohtak, Hisar, Faridabad, Gurugram and Sonepat have never sent a woman to Parliament.

It is for the first time that the father-son duo of Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Deependeer Hooda will be contesting Lok Sabha poll together on the Congress ticket from Sonepat and Rohtak seats.

Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s candidature from Sonepat is significant. It signals the urge of the Congress to put its best foot forward in Haryana. Sitting Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Kumari Selja is also contesting the LS poll this time around as the Congress is keen to win as many seats as possible.

Manwhile Bhavya Bishnoi, son of Kuldeep Bishnoi, the sitting Adampur MLA, will be the Congress candidate from Hisar and former Haryana Speaker Kuldeep Sharma will contest from Karnal, the segment where his father Chiranji Lal Sharma used to hold sway once.

In another major development the Congress cancelled the candidature of MLA Lalit Nagar from Faridabad and instead named former MP Avtar Singh Bhadana, who was on the verge of quitting the Congress after being denied the ticket. Bhadana had recently joined the Congress after leaving BJP.

The Congress gave Kurukshetra seat to Nirmal Singh after former MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal declined to fight from here. Hooda’s candidature from Sonepat is significant and signals the Congress’ urge to put its best foot forward in Haryana. That’s the reason why sitting Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Kumari Selja is also contesting.

Stakes are very high for the BJP and party candidate Sanjay Bhatia in Karnal Lok Sabha constituency. Bhatia had earlier contested two assembly elections unsuccessfully, but hopes to be lucky the third time around now with the full support of the Chief Minister Manohar Lal khattar and the party cadre, “outsider’ tag nowithstanding.

According to sources, apart from being a Punjabi and close to Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar, old association with RSS also helped Sanjay Bhatia get the ticket from Karnal Lok Sabha seat. Otherwise thrice MP Dr Arvind Sharma, who recently joined the BJP after quitting BSP and Congress earlier, was expected to get the BJP ticket keeping in mind his winnable factor.

While the wily veteran politician former Chief Minister of Haryana Om Prakash Chautala is cooling his heels in the Tihar jail serving a 10-year jail term in the JBT teachers recruitment scam, his son and former MP Ajay Chautala, also serving a similar jail term has been given a 21-days unconditional furlough.

Unmindful of the accusation that the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) alliance with the Jannanayk Janata Party (JJP) facilitated his release from the jail, Ajay Chautala has swung into action immediately and has started canvassing for his newly formed party JJP which is contesting the Lok Sabha election for the first time now.

Meanwhile the Dera Sacha Sauda followers are in a quandary over which party to vote for in LS poll. In the last general election held in 2014, the Dera Sacha Sauda had reportedly given overwhelming support to the BJP and the BJP went on to register a facile victory. The BJP had formed the government on its own for the first time in Haryana in 2014.

The Dera has got good influence on voters in four Lok Sabha constituencies of Sirsa, Hisarm Sonepat and Rohtak. But the Dera Head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is in jail now. No wonder the Dera Sacha  Sauda followers are directionless. They are reportedly in two minds which party to vote. They have no one to guide them in this regard. BJP is not averse to seeking their support again.