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February 10, 2000
900 in fray for 90 seats in Haryana
Onkar Singh in Chandigarh
Nearly 900 candidates are in the fray for the 90 Haryana assembly seats going to the polls on February 22. Prominent among them ar: Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala, former chief ministers Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal and the president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee Chaudhary Bhupinder Singh Huda.
Chautala is confident that his party, the Indian National Lok Dal, and its electoral partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, will romp home in a repeat of the 1999 Lok Sabha elections.
"We are all set to repeat the performance. The Congress will be wiped out," Vinit Punia, press secretary to the chief minister said.
The Congress, however, is sceptical of the INLD's claims. "Let them say anything... we know that the Congress would be putting up a much better show than the last time,'' said a senior Congress leader in New Delhi.
While Chautala himself is heading the party's campaign, the BJP has named Sushil Modi as its campaign coordinator. The Congress has entrusted the task to former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh and former governor of Uttar Pradesh, Moti Lal Vora. Bansi Lal, former chief minister of the state and president of the Haryana Vikas Party, will head the HVP campaign.
Chautala is contesting from Narwana and Rori assembly constituencies. He faces Randeep Singh Surjewal in Narawana and his younger brother Chaudhary Ranjit Singh in Rori. Chaudhary Singh is contesting on a Congress ticket.
Former chief minister Bhajan Lal is contesting from the Adampur assembly constituency and is locked in a straight contest with Professor Ganeshi Lal of the BJP. Bhajan Lal's son Chander Mohan is contesting from the Kalka assembly constituency.
President of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee Bhupinder Singh Huda is contesting from Kiloi in Rohtak district. Another Congress stalwart, Birender Singh, is in the fray from Uchana Kalan.
Bansi Lal has decided once again to try out his luck from his stronghold Bhiwani. But this time he faces a strong challenge from Rishi Prakash Sharma of the BJP.
The Congress has given tickets to 10 women candidates, which is the highest among all parties.
Another prominent Congress candidate in the fray is industrialist Om Prakash Jindal..
The campaigning in the state is yet to pick up, making it difficult to weigh the claims of parties against the public response. However, if a senior journalist, an avid observer of Haryana politics, is to be believed, the state is headed for a hung assembly.
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