Gloves are off for a fierce grudge fight between sitting le gislator Anil Vij (Bharatiya Janata Party) and former minister Nirmal Singh (Congress), both of whom have been MLA four times.
Nirmal Singh has won assembly elections in neighbouring and erstwhile constituency of Naggal in 1982, 1991, 1996 and 2005. A former district Congress president, he lost the last contest here to Vij, since after delimitation, parts of the Naggal seat were merged with Ambala Cantt and City.
Vij, who enjoys significant support of the workers and the party, won on the BJP ticket in 1990, parted ways with it in 1995, and won as an independent in 1996 and 2000, only to lose in 2005 by a narrow margin of 600 votes. The BJP accepted him back and gave him ticket in 2009, and he won.
“Vij is not even a patch on me, for I was first elected an MLA in 1982 and have been a cabinet minister, too. Vij is good at only cribbing. He has neither clarity nor projection or vision,” Nirmal Singh says in chaste English, laughing, mimicking Vij’s cribbing. He is then out with a brief speech to show how an MLA, even if of the opposition, ought to put his point across.
Hung in his drawing room are his photographs with top Congress leaders such as former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Pointing to those, he says it is because of his closeness to the central and state leaders that he could solve the problems of the
constituency. He said he had got several youths employment and taken other demands to chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
NETWORK VS MODI WAVE
The campaign day of Nirmal Singh begins in the forenoon with meetings at his palatial house in the Cantt area, followed by more meetings across the constituency.
High on confidence because of Modi wave, Vij walks the congested residential lanes and hardly walk-able streets of the Cantt bazaars each morning. He banks on his simplicity, consistent hard work and easy accessibility. His supporters rend the air with slogans about him as well as Modi, sporadically.
Vij is not in a hurry, as he greets people, meets shopkeepers, bows to the elderly, and embraces people of his age. Often, he sits with them on the charpoy, chair or stool, or even on the floor.
ALARM BELLS FOR VIJ
Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) candidate Suraj Prakash Jindal, active party worker for the past more than five years, is its district president and first time candidate. Having hit full throttle already, he campaigns in the name of development.
Jindal’s labouring to garner support of people has the poten tial to damage Vij. In 2009, INLD candidate KD Sharma had about 2,100 votes when Vij had defeated Nirmal Singh by about 6,300. A small advancement by Jindal could pose a big threat to Vij.