With last date of withdrawal of nominations ending, battle lines have been drawn for the upcoming Haryana assembly polls, with 1168 candidates left in fray. Ruling BJP is going full throttle to realise its target of bagging over 75 seats in the 90-member Assembly, which goes to polls on October 21. While there are multiple players in the fray, the main contest is seen between the Bharatiya Janata Party and main opposition Congress on several seats. But the new Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), which broke away from the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), too has emerged as a key player.
Among the candidates left in the fray include BJP rebel and sitting Rewari MLA Randhir Kapriwas, who did not withdraw his nomination to protest denial of ticket to him by his party.
He said on Monday that he has not withdrawn from the contest and is fighting as an Independent.
However, in a reprieve to ruling outfit, Anita, wife of party’s Gurgaon MLA Umesh Aggarwal, who was denied ticket to re-contest, withdrew from the race after earlier filing her candidature as an Independent.
The polling to the 90-member Assembly will be take place on October 21 and results will be declared on October 24. Nearly?1.83 crore voters including 1.07 lakh service voters are eligible to exercise their right to franchise.
“A total of 1,168 candidates will fight it out for 90 seats in the upcoming Assembly polls in Haryana,” Joint Chief Electoral Officer, Haryana, Inder Jeet said in an official release Monday evening.
In Hisar, 118 are left in the fray while 27 candidates are contesting the polls from Charkhi Dadri.
Sixty-nine candidates are contesting from Faridabad, 59 from Khattar’s home turf of Karnal and 54 from Gurgaon, the poll official said.
The BJP, which was propelled to power in Haryana by a dramatic surge in its vote share five years ago, faces a multi-level hurdle this time in its “Mission 75 plus” as it aims to retain power in the state.
From Karnal, where 12 candidates including Independents have entered 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.
Against Khattar, Congress has fielded a little-known face Tarlochan Singh while the JJP has fielded Tej Bahadur Yadav, who was sacked from the BSF in 2017 after he uploaded a video on social media complaining about the quality of food served to the BSF personnel.
Congress leader and two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who is representing Garhi Sampla-Kiloi seat in Rohtak since 2005, is facing BJP’s Satish Nandal, who had earlier served as INLD’s district unit chief from Rohtak and joined the saffron party ahead of polls.
Hooda had defeated Nandal, then INLD candidate, in the previous elections.
INLD chief Abhay Singh Chautala is seeking re-election from Ellenabad in Sirsa district.
Abhay’s nephew Dushyant Chautala, who is spearheading the JJP, has entered the fray from Uchana Kalan in Jind district, from where BJP’s Prem Lata, wife of former Union Minister Birender Singh, is seeking re-election.
Among other prominent opposition candidates left in the contest include Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kiran Choudhary and Kuldeep Bishnoi, who are seeking re-election from Kaithal, Tosham and Adampur, respectively.
JJP’s Naina Chautala shifted from her Dabwali constituency and is now fighting from Badhra in Charkhi Dadri from where she faces among others former chief minister Bansi Lal’s son, Ranbir Mahendra, who also served as Indian cricket board (BCCI) chief earlier.
For the BJP, two wrestlers Babita Phogat (Dadri in Charkhi Dadri) and Yogeshwar Dutt (Baroda in Sonipat) and former hockey captain Sandeep Singh (Pehowa in Kurukshetra) are in the race.
Among the Ministers in the BJP seeking re-election are Anil Vij (Ambala Cantt), Capt Abhimanyu (Narnaund in Hisar), Ram Bilas Sharma (Mahendergarh), O P Dhankar (Badli in Jhajjar) and Kavita Jain (Sonipat).
Other players in the poll ring include Indian National Lok Dal, BSP, AAP and Swaraj India party.
With barely days left for the polls, parties are going full steam campaigning for their candidates.
Opposition parties are targeting the BJP over issues like unemployment, youth, farmers, employees, water issues and alleged non-fulfilment of poll promises.
For the ruling party, transparency in governance, zero tolerance for corruption, giving jobs on merit, achievements of state and central governments are the poll issues. Scrapping of Article 370 is also raised by BJP leaders during election campaign.
The polls have come at a time when opposition parties in Haryana are in a disarray, with INLD facing existential crisis while Congress too facing problems with its former state chief quitting days before polls.