Haryana Assembly Election 2019: Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on an average addressing six poll rallies in a day. Over the next few days, top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be campaigning in the state.
With the last date for the withdrawal of nominations ending Monday, battle lines are drawn for the Haryana assembly polls with the BJP going full throttle in its bid for another term in office. Some party rebels still remain in the fray, including Rewari MLA Randhir Kapriwas who is protesting over not being renominated by the BJP. He said on Monday that he is fighting as an Independent. However, the BJP got a reprieve in Gurgaon. Sitting BJP MLA Umedha Aggarwal’s wife Anita Aggarwal has withdrawn her nomination.
She had filed her papers as an independent candidate after her husband was denied the BJP ticket. While there are multiple players in the field, the main contest is seen between the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and the opposition Congress. But the new Jannayak Janta Party, which broke away from the Indian National Lok Dal, too has emerged as a key player. The polling to the 90-member Assembly will be take place on October 21 and the results will be declared on October 24. About 1.83 crore people, including 1.07 lakh service voters, are eligible to exercise their franchise.
The BJP currently has 48 MLAs in the state legislature and has set a target to bag over 75 seats. In Karnal, where 12 candidates are in the fray, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, a first-time MLA, does not seem to face any major challenge as no prominent leader is pitted against him. The Congress has fielded little-known Tarlochan Singh and the JJP contestant is Tej Bahadur Yadav, who was sacked from the Border Security Force in 2017 after he uploaded a video on social media complaining about the food served to the jawans. Congress strongman Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is representing Garhi Sampla-Kiloi in Rohtak since 2005, faces BJP’s Satish Nandal, who had earlier served as INLD’s district unit chief and joined the saffron party ahead of the polls. Hooda, a two-time chief minister, had defeated Nandal, then an INLD candidate, in the last elections. INLD chief Abhay Singh Chautala is seeking re-election from Ellenabad in Sirsa district. His nephew Dushyant Chautala, who is spearheading the JJP, has entered the fray from Uchana Kalan in Jind district. The BJP has fielded Prem Lata, wife of former Union Minister Birender Singh.
Other prominent opposition candidates in the contest are Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala (Kaithal), Kiran Choudhary (Tosham) and Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur) – all three are seeking re-election. JJP’s Naina Chautala shifted from Dabwali to Badhra in Charkhi Dadri, where she is facing former chief minister Bansi Lal’s son Ranbir Mahendra. Mahendra is a former chief of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). For the BJP, wrestlers Babita Phogat (Dadri) and Yogeshwar Dutt (Baroda) besides former hockey captain Sandeep Singh (Pehowa) are in the race. Among the ministers seeking re-election are Anil Vij (Ambala Cantonment), Capt Abhimanyu (Narnaund), Ram Bilas Sharma (Mahendragarh), O P Dhankar (Badli) and Kavita Jain (Sonipat). The Bahujan Samaj Party, Aam Aadmi Party and Swaraj India have also thrown their hat into the ring.
A couple of weeks ahead of the polling, parties have stepped up their campaigning. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on an average addressing six poll rallies in a day. Over the next few days, top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will be campaigning in the state.
For the Congress, party chief Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Priyanka Gandhi are expected to canvas in the state. The opposition is targeting the BJP over issues like unemployment, farm crisis and water scarcity, alleging non-fulfilment of poll promises. For the ruling party, transparency in governance, fight against corruption, recruitment on merit and the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status are the main issues.