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Haryana goes to polls in high stakes multi-cornered fight

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 14, 2014 18:09 IST
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The fate of 1,351 candidates will be sealed by 1.63 crore voters in high-stakes multi-cornered contest in Haryana which goes to polls on Wednesday with top guns including the kin of the three famous 'Lals' battling it out in the state.

After the hectic poll campaign came to an end at 6 pm on Monday, many parties on Tuesday issued advertisements in the newspapers appealing for vote for Wednesday’s polling to the 90 member state assembly.

About 1.63 crore voters, including 87.37 lakh women, will decide the fate of 1,351 candidates, including 109 women, in 16,357 polling stations.

The main contestants include top guns like Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Randeep Surjewala (Congress), former Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala's son Abhay, daughter-in-law Naina and grandson Dushyant (Indian National Lok Dal), former Union Minister Venod Sharma and his wife Shakti Rani (Haryana Jan Chetna Party-Venod), former Member of Parliament Kuldeep Bishnoi, his wife Renuka and elder brother former Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan (Haryana Janhit Congres-BL).

Other main candidates include Haryana Bharatiya Janata Party President Ram Bilas Sharma and Abhimanyu (BJP), Arvind Sharma (Bahujan Samaj Party) and Gopal Kanda (Haryana Lokhit Party), who was booked in the Geetika Sharma suicide case.

Unlike in the recent past, when the fight has mainly been limited between the Congress and Indian National Lok Dal, a number of new players have thrown their hats in the ring this time.

Besides the Congress and the INLD, the BJP is trying to come to power on its own for the first time since the formation of Haryana in 1966. Apart from banking on the anti-incumbency factor, the BJP is hoping that the "Modi factor" will work in its favour like in the Lok Sabha, in which it got seven of the eight seats it contested from Haryana.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi aggressively campaigned for the BJP in Haryana appealing the voters to give the party a chance to take the state on path of development.

The Congress is eyeing a win for the third time in a row, mainly banking on the development card while main opposition INLD is seeking to return to power after a decade of hiatus, banking on the charisma of its President Om Prakash Chautala and consolidation of the Jat vote, besides other factors.

Two new parties -- former Union Minister Venod Sharma-led Jan Chetna Party and former MP Kuldeep Bishnoi led Haryana Janhit Congress-BL are fighting the polls in alliance and both outfits will mainly bank on consolidation of the non-Jat votes.

Independent Member of Legislative Assembly Gopal Kanda's Haryana Lokhit Party, besides the BSP and the Left parties are also trying their luck.

BSP has roped in former Karnal Member of Parliament and prominent Brahmin face Arvind Sharma, who is the party's chief ministerial candidate. Two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, son of veteran freedom fighter late Chaudhary Ranbir Singh, is seeking re-election from his Garhi Sampla Kiloi constituency in Rohtak district.

While Haryana's famous 'Lals'-- Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal -- may have dominated the state's political landscape for decades, their progenies and kin who are contesting from different seats this time hope to keep the family name flying high.

Devi Lal's son former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and the latter's son Ajay Singh may be out of the contest this time in the wake of their sentencing in the teachers' recruitment scam last year, prestige is at stake for the kin who are in fray fighting from the seats represented by the jailed leaders.

Chautala's another son and senior INLD leader Abhay Singh is seeking re-election from Ellenabad Assembly segment. Naina Singh, wife of Ajay Singh Chautala, has entered the poll arena from her husband's Dabwali segment and has become the first woman from Devi Lal's clan to enter politics.

Her son and Hissar MP Dushyant Chautala is fighting from Uchana Kalan, the seat represented by O P Chautala at present. The Congress has nominated Devi Lal's youngest son Ranjit Singh from Rania constituency.

Former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal's younger son and HJC President Kuldeep Bishnoi, has entered the fray from the family's pocket borough Adampur constituency while Bishnoi's wife Renuka is contesting from Hansi.

Bhajan Lal's elder son and former Deputy Chief Minister Chander Mohan is contesting from the Nalwa segment. The kin of late Bansi Lal, who was considered as the architect of modern Haryana, have again entered the fray to retain hold over their traditional turfs.

Bansi Lal's son and former Board of Control for Cricket in India President Ranbir Singh Mahendra, daughter-in-law (late Surender Singh's wife) and Haryana Minister Kiran Chaudhary and Lal's son-in-law Sombir Singh are contesting as Congress candidates from Badhra, Tosham and Loharu segments in the Bhiwani district.

Among other top guns in the fray are Haryana cabinet minister and Congress's national spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala, seeking re-election from Kaithal constituency.

The BJP's chief ministerial aspirants state unit chief Ram Bilas Sharma, party's spokesman Capt Abhimanyu and former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Manohar Lal Khattar are in the fray from Mahendargarh, Narnaund (Hissar) and Karnal assembly segments, respectively.

Congress Minister Savitri Jindal is seeking re-election from Hissar segment. Savitri is the wife of former Haryana Minister late O P Jindal and mother of former MP and noted industrialist Naveen Jindal.

Another Haryana Minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav is seeking re-election from his stronghold Rewari assembly segment for a record seventh time. Contesting an election for the first time from Safidon seat, teacher-turned-politician Vandana Sharma is the younger sister of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Vandana has entered the fray as a BJP candidate.

Haryana Jan Chetna Party chief Venod Sharma, who snapped his four-decade old ties with the Congress, is seeking re-election from AmbalaCity constituency while his wife Shakti Rani is in the fray from Kalka assembly segment.

Gopal Kanda, currently out on bail in connection with airhostess Geetika Sharma suicide case, is seeking re-election from Sirsa constituency. The total of 1,351 candidates including 109 women, the highest number in state's history, are in the electoral fray this time.

Those in fray includes 90 each of the BJP and the Congress both of which are contesting all the seats. Three other National Parties BSP, Communist Party of India-Marxist and the Communist Party of India have put up 87, 14, and 17 candidates respectively. The five national parties have in all put up 298 candidates.

The four state parties have put up a total of 251 candidates - INLD (88), HJC-BL (65), HLP (75) and HJCP-V (23). INLD's ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which supports BJP in Punjab but is opposing the candidates of saffron party in Haryana, has put up two candidates.

Other registered parties have put up 197 candidates and remaining 603 are Independents.

The polling will take place from 7 am to 6 pm on Wednesday and counting of votes will take place on October 19. The Congress had failed to get the required majority of 45 in the 90-member state assembly in the 2009 assembly polls, but Hooda managed to form the government after five Haryana Janhit Congress (BL) MLAs deserted their party and merged with the Congress, which also got the support of seven Independents and a lone BSP member.

Five HJC (BL) MLAs -- Satpal Sangwan, Vinod Bhayana, Rao Narender Singh, Zile Ram Chochra and Dharam Singh Chhokar -- had 'merged' the party with the Congress leaving their party Chief Kuldeep Bishnoi, who was also elected, alone in the HJC.

Justice K Kannan of the Punjab and Haryana high court in his verdict on October 9, 2014 while allowing the writ petition filed by Kuldeep Bishnoi, president of HJC challenging the merger, termed the order of speaker as bad in law.

The judge held that there was no proof of merger of the original political party and the decision of the speaker was against constitutional mandate.

Graphic courtesy: KBK Graphics

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