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Bhajan Lal looks for eighth Adampur win

January 29, 2005 17:39 IST

The confidence in the Congress camp in the party bastion of Adampur is palpable. It is justified -- Bhajan Lal has not lost an election from here in almost four decades.

Hundreds of supporters mill around the Congress poll office in this small town in Hisar district. The Indian National Lok Dal office a few hundred metres away is almost deserted.

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"This will be a very one-sided election," grumbles a Bharatiya Janata Party worker as he goes about setting up an assembly poll office for his party.

The writing on the wall seems to be clear to Lal's opponents in this constituency of about 1,40,000 voters. Lal has won seven times from Adampur and his wife Jasma Devi once, when he was in the Rajya Sabha and a Union minister.

In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, Lal's younger son Kuldeep Singh Bishnoi defeated Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala's son Ajay from Bhiwani, within which most of Adampur falls.

While Lal's opponents are spending up to 14 hours every day in the villages, he has decided to dispense with door-to-door campaigning in the last few days before voting on February 3.

"We have never campaigned in Adampur. We just go to the people and meet them over some tea and coffee," says Bishnoi.

Lal says he has visited all 62 villages in the constituency in the last few weeks. "Now the party agents are fully active in every nook and corner. People know about my work, thousands have got jobs and many dispensaries and schools have come up in Adampur during my tenure."

His son Bishnoi is talking numbers, not outcome. "My father defeated Ganeshi Lal, the combined BJP-INLD candidate, by over 40,000 votes in the 2000 assembly elections. He got nearly 70 per cent of the total votes and the margin of victory will be even more this time."

Lal may belong to the Bishnoi community, who number only about 16,000 in the constituency, but the 50,000-strong Jat community is backing him to the hilt.

Says Vijender Singh of Hindwan village: "Chowdhury sahab [Lal] does not need to come to ask votes from us. Everyone in this constituency wants him to become the chief minister again."

If that happens, it will be the fourth time Lal will take oath as chief minister of the state and though he is not saying it openly, his candidature for the post seems to be the only item on the electoral agenda for the Congress here.

Though a host of names are being thrown up for the top post from within the Congress -- including O P Jindal, Birender Singh, Randeep Singh Surjewala and Bhupinder Singh Hooda -- Lal is one of the prime contenders.

Complete Coverage: Assembly Elections 2005

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