DW BUREAU / Chandigarh
The ruling BJP is locked in a tight contest with the opposition Congress and the fledgling JJP for the 90 assembly seats that will go to polls in Haryana on Monday. While the Congress is hoping to make a comeback following the change in guard in the state, the BJP has set a target to bag at least 75 seats in the contest in which 1,169 candidates of various political outfits are in the fray.
Currently, the BJP has 48 members in the 90-member state assembly.
The Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), a breakaway faction of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), is also hoping for an improvement in its prospects following the Lok Sabha debacle.
The party had emerged on the scene following a feud in the Chautala clan in Decamber last year.
The polling will be held at 19,578 stations from 7 am to 6 pm, Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana, Anurag Agarwal, said.
Tight security arrangements have been made and over 75,000 security personnel have been mobilised for the polls, DGP Manoj Yadava said on Saturday.
Over 1.83 crore voters, including 85 lakh women and 252 transgenders, are eligible to vote.
As many as 27,611 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) machines will be used for the assembly elections.
The main contest is seen among the BJP, Congress and the JJP.
However, Chief Minister Khattar claimed that the opposition was in “disarray” and the BJP had no direct contest with any party.
The BSP, AAP, INLD-SAD combine, Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) have thrown the hat into the ring, though none of them is fighting on all 90 seats.
In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP for the first time came to power in Haryana on its own strength.
During the poll campaigning, which came to an end on Saturday evening, the BJP made revoking provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and other issues surrounding nationalism a major poll plank.
The Congress, JJP, INLD, AAP, BSP and other opponents targeted the Khattar government over unemployment, economy, farmers distress and alleged scams including mining and cash-for-jobs scam and “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state.
Prominent amongst those in the contest are Chief Minister Khattar (Karnal), former chief minister and Congress Legislative Party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Garhi Sampla-Kiloi), Randeep Singh Surjewala (Kaithal), Kiran Choudhary (Tosham) and Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur), Haryana Assembly Speaker Kanwar Pal Gurjar (Jagadhri). Besides, JJP’s Dushyant Chautala (Uchana Kalan), INLD’s Abhay Singh Chautala (Ellenabad), state BJP chief Subhash Barala (Tohana), lone woman minister Kavita Jain (Sonipat), ministers Ram Bilas Sharma (Mahendergarh), Anil Vij (Ambala Cantt), O P Dhankar (Badli) and Capt Abhimanyu (Narnaund) are also in the fray.
The BJP has fielded three sportspersons — Babita Phogat (Dadri), Yogeshwar Dutt (Baroda in Sonipat) and Sandeep Singh (Pehowa) — besides TikTok artist Sonali Phogat (Adampur). In the polls, prestige of families of Haryana’s famous ‘Lals’ ? Devi Lal, Bansi Lal and Bhajan Lal, who were former chief ministers ? will be at stake.
Late Bansi Lal’s daughter-in-law Kiran Choudhary (Tosham) and son Ranbir Mahendra (Badhra) are contesting as Congress candidates. Devi Lal’s great grandson and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala and granddaughter-in-law Naina Chautala (Badhra) are fighting as JJP candidates.
Devi Lal’s grandson and former chief minister O P Chautala’s son Abhay Singh Chautala is fighting as INLD candidate (from Ellenabad).
Late Bhajan Lal’s sons Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur) and Chander Mohan (Panchkula) are in the fray as Congress nominees.
In the polls, all eyes will be on which party the Jat community, which constitutes nearly 25 per cent of state’s population, votes this time.
The BJP has fielded 20 candidates from the community, JJP 33 and Congress 26.
The high-voltage electioneering saw the BJP fielding a galaxy of leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his cabinet colleagues Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh and Smriti Irani.
BJP’s Hema Malini, Sunny Deol and Gautam Gambhir also canvassed for the party.
Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Ashok Gehlot were among the prominent faces who campaigned for the Congress.
Yogendra Yadav campaigned for his party Swaraj India, JJP’s Dushyant Chautala criss-crossed the state for his party candidates, BSP chief Mayawati, INLD’s Abhay Chautala and his party’s ally SAD’s Sukhbir Singh Badal, former Kurukshetra MP Raj Kumar Saini of LSP sought votes for their respective party candidates.
While Prime Minister Modi addressed seven rallies in the state, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addressed two election meetings.
Ahead of the polls, the BJP denied tickets to 12 of its sitting legislators, which included two ministers – Vipul Goel (Faridabad) and Rao Narbir Singh (Badshahpur).
Of the 12 legislators, Randhir Kapriwas turned rebel and entered the fray from Rewari.
The Congress retained its sitting legislators while the INLD saw its prominent faces switching over to the BJP, the Congress and the JJP. In the 2014 assembly polls, the BJP had won 47 seats. It won the Jind bypolls earlier this year, taking its total strength in the state assembly to 48.
The INLD had 19 MLAs while the Congress has 17 legislators.