Adampur by-poll a litmus test for Haryana’s coalition govt

Congress’s Jai Prakash, former Union Minister, is pitted against BJP’s Bhavya Bishnoi for by-election in Adampur, a Bishnoi stronghold. Meanwhile, AAP is betting on party-hopper Satender Singh to help the party make a maiden foray into the state, writes Rajendra Khatry

 The by-election in Haryana on November 3 on the Adampur seat will be a litmus test for the BJP-JJP coalition government in Haryana. The ruling BJP-JJP coalition lost both the by-elections held during its term. However, the BJP is very hopeful of winning the Adampur seat as it has fielded Bhajan Lal’s grandson and Kuldeep Bishnoi’s son Bhavya Bishnoi from the seat.

Congress, the main opposition party in Haryana, has fielded former Union Minister  Jai Prakash who is expected to give a tough fight to Bhavya Bishnoi. Bhupinder Singh Hooda had said that the Congress would put up a strong candidate in Adampur.

Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party is also trying to enter Haryana through this election. Boosted by the massive victory in Punjab, AAP is making serious efforts to win the by-elections in Haryana now. AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal has been frequently visiting Hisar and holding rallies.

The AAP has fielded Satender Singh who quit the BJP to join AAP. The Indian national Lok Dal (INLD) has not named its candidate yet. Satender had contested the 2014 Assembly elections from Adampur on a Congress ticket. But later, he quit the Congress to join the BJP. He changed his mind again recently and joined the AAP.

Adampur constituency has been a stronghold of the late Chief Minister Bhajan Lal’s family. For the last 50 years this family has been winning the seat starting. From Bhajan Lal to his son Kuldeep Bishnoi and Kuldeep’s wife Renuka Bishnoi have been the winners so far.

Kuldeep’s son Bhavya Bishnoi is contesting the by-poll from Adampur. Interestingly it is for the first time that any member of the family will be contesting the poll on a BJP ticket. Bhavya is facing a case under the Black Money (Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets and Imposition of Tax Act, 2015). The matter is pending against him.

The Adampur by-election is a big test for not only the Bishnois, who are under great expectation and pressure to protect their legacy, it is also posing a stiff challenge to the Congress under Bhupinder Singh Hooda who is fighting to defend the traditional bastion. Rajya Sabha MP and Bhupinder Hooda’s son, Deepender Hooda has been frequenting Adampur to canvass support for the Congress party.

After the announcement of the candidates of Aam Aadmi Party and BJP for the Adampur by-election, the IT cells of both the BJP and AAP  have become super active.  Both the BJP and the AAP have been indulging in social media war in the Adampur by-election.

Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition in Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda believes that Adampur has always been a Congress seat and should remain so now, but the Bishnois are out to prove the veteran Congress leader wrong. Haryana BJP president Om Prakash Dhankar feels extremely confident of winning the Adampur seat. According to Sudesh Kataria, Haryana BJP spokesman, with Kuldeep Bishnoi joining the BJP, it will ensure victory for the party.

Incidentally, Kuldeep Bishnoi and his wife Renuka Bishnoi had also reached the Haryana assembly for the first time after winning a by-election. Now preparations for the entry of Bhavya have started.

AAP declared Satender Singh as its candidate for the Adampur assembly seat. This will be the fourth by-election in Adampur assembly in the last 24 years. In the three by-elections held so far, the members of Bhajan Lal family won all. The 29-years-old Bhavya Bishnoi had contested the first election in his political career in 2019 from Hisar Lok Sabha on the Congress seat, but he was defeated by Brijendra Singh, son of Union Minister Birender Singh of the BJP.

Haryana’s Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala of the JJP had finished second. BJP MP Brijendra got 60,3289 votes, Dushyant Chautala got 28,9221 votes while Bhavya Bishnoi had polled 18,4369 votes. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Bhajan Lal’s family had to face defeat for the first time in their booth in Adampur.

The coalition government in Haryana under the leadership of Chief Minister Manohar Lal is in the third year of its second term. This is the third by-election in the state during the coalition government. The BJP lost both the previous by-polls in Baroda and Ellenabad constituencies to the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal, respectively.

Kuldeep Bishnoi had won from Adampur on a Congress ticket. The BJP fielded TikTok star, late Sonali Phogat against Bishnoi, but she lost.

Later, the seat fell vacant after Kuldeep Bishnoi’s resignation. Kuldeep quit the Congress to join the BJP. The BJP was reportedly keen on fielding Kuldeep Bishnoi again from the vacant Adampur assembly seat which he had vacated after quitting Congress and joining the BJP. But Kuldeep, who has been grooming his son Bhavya, wanted the ticket for Bhavya and the BJP acceded to his demand.

As for himself, Kuldeep Bishnoi has the 2024 Lok Sabha elections in mind where he would like to contest the elections from the Hisar seat. But the problem is Brijendra Singh, son of senior BJP leader Birender Singh is the present incumbent of the  Hisar Lok Sabha seat and the BJP will be hard put to deny an incumbent ticket in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

According to political experts, the main challenge to the BJP candidate in Adampur will be from the Congress. Elections to Panchayati Raj Institutions are to be conducted soon. Therefore, this by-election of Adampur by political parties is considered very important.

In the 2019 assembly elections, the winner Kuldeep Bishnoi Bishnoi of the Congress had polled 63,693 votes which was 51.7 per cent of the total votes polled. On the other hand BJP’s candidate Sonali Phogat had polled 34,222  votes with a polling percentage of 27.78 per cent.

This election is important for the Congress because Hooda would like to prove the rising trend of Congress victories in Haryana. If Congress wins the election, it will be considered to be the first step by the party to return to power in 2024. Congress would like to capitalise on the anti-incumbency factor against the ruling coalition government.

If the BJP bags the Adampur by-poll, it would prove to be a morale boosting win. It would also prove helpful to the party in the forthcoming Panchayat elections. The BJP will claim that the people are satisfied with the performance of the Manohar Lal government. The BJP is trying to increase its penetration in the stronghold of former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal on the pretext of Kuldeep Bishnoi.