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Banking on Bishnoi, will Renuka be ‘Hansi ki rani’?

chandigarh Updated: Oct 14, 2014 20:25 IST
Surender Sharma

Lawns at an Indira Colony house on Hansi-Jind road are abuzz with activity this particular afternoon. At one end, personal staff of Renuka Bishnoi is putting necessary items in her BMW car as her evening campaign starts in half-an-hour, while on the other side, city’s booth-level workers have assembled to meet her and chalk out future poll strategy. As the door opens, amid the chants of “Hansi Ki Rani zindabad” workers make way for Renuka Bishnoi to a pedestal where a king chair is placed for her.

The Haryana Janhit Congress leader, who is Hansi candidate of the party, reviews booth-by-booth arrangements as she struggles to keep her ‘chunni’ over her half-covered head while giving directions.

As the meeting ends, wearing Anarkali suit with heavy makeup, she gets ready for the evening campaign in the city.

“People are angry here on what Vinod Bhayana (Congress candidate) did to them. They got him elected on HJC ticket and he switched over to the Congress. They want to take revenge from him,” she sums up the poll battle as the Bhajal Lal family is contesting for the first time in Hansi. In her electoral debut in the 2011 byelection, Renuka won from Adampur, a stronghold of the party. But she had to leave the ‘safe’ seat for her husband and party supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi this time as he is campaigning throughout the state.

She talks about how family and friends are helping her and how she keeps eye on her kids — daughter who studying in a Delhi school and son who is in UK — through Skype, a video-chatting platform as her campaign stretches up to 14 hours a day. “Kuldeep is a legend for me. He is very lucky for me. Lucky charm…,” she says pointing to a diamond-studded pendant in “K’ shape that she is wearing.

Pitted against her are Vinod Bhayana on the Congress, who won election in 2009 on HJC ticket but later defected to the Congress, and former minister Chhaterpal Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party, who hit the headlines in the 1991 elections by defeating former deputy prime minister Devi Lal from the then Ghirai segment. The Indian National Lok Dal has fielded district president Umed Singh Lohan from Hansi.

Factors at play

Hansi seat has 25% Jat voters and with two candidates — Chhaterpal and Lohan — from the same community; so division of votes is expected. Three top candidates — of HJC, BJP and INLD — are from outside Hansi, the fact that Vinod Bhayana, a local, is exploiting.

Hansi has nearly 65,000 urban voters mainly from Mahajan, Punjabi and Brahmin communities among others, where the HJC has done well in the past. Bhayana, a Punjabi, could eat into HJC votes. But he has baggage. He is not only fighting anger over his defection but has against him allegations in the change of land use (CLU) scam.

A former Haryana minister, Chhaterpal Singh, says he is fighting against forces, which are corrupt and do not have an ideology of their own. “Ye sab Mungeri Lal ke sapne dekh rahe hain. People have already started disowning them (Bishnoi and Bhayana),” says the BJP candidate as he heads out of Mendha village in his Fortuner car after a door-to-door campaign. Singh is riding high on the Modi wave and also underlines that he had once defeated INLD stalwart Devi Lal.

Meanwhile, the day has turned out to be a bad one for Vinod Bhayana, who is already facing an anti-Congress wave and corruption charges. The Punjab and Haryana high court on October 9 ruled against him in the defection case and unseated him. “I never took my duty casually. I did whatever I could in last five years,” he says while pleading to voters to forgive him for any mistake at a public meeting later in the day after the high court came out with its verdict. “MLA aadhi rat ka gehna hota hai. Kisi aise ko vote mat dena jiska address bhi nahi pata. Apna gussa kabhi aur nikal lena. Halke ko saja mat dena,” he says, while claiming that Renuka, Lohan and Singh, all are outsiders.