It’s noon, and sessions of traditional song-drama ragini are on to entertain the crowd amidst frequent announcements of getting more chairs as crowds swell to outside the covered area at Ghanta Ghar Chowk in Bhiwani. But by now the organisers have realised that rally, to be jointly addressed by Haryana Janhit Congress chief Kuldeep Bishnoi and Haryana Jan Chetna Party president Venod Sharma, is running four hours behind schedule. As it becomes difficult to even breathe inside the covered area, the tent’s sides are opened. Announcements go on from the stage that the leaders are arriving “in 10 minutes”.
Around 4.30pm, disrupting a ragini session, Bishnoi finally makes an entry as the crowd goes into a frenzy to touch him, shake hands with him. He cuts short the customary session of taking names of top leaders present there and also apologises for the delay. “I am late. In fact, very, very late. I hope you will not vent your anger while casting your vote!” he says, starting his speech amidst laughter from the crowd.
As for the serious business, he targets the BJP and Congress both, and taunts the INLD as well. “They (Congress and BJP) have betrayed the HJC as well as the INLD. They do not want regional parties to flourish. From Bansi Lal to Devi Lal and Bhajan Lal (Bishnoi’s late father), these two parties have betrayed everyone,” he says. Then he launches an attack on the INLD: “The BJP is telling you that the INLD spreads ‘gundagardi’ (lawlessness). It is true! But it is a half truth. The BJP was also party to it, as it was in alliance with the INLD then,” he says amidst cheering from the crowd that says, “Chief minister kaisa ho? Kuldeep Bishnoi jaisa ho!”.
The convoy leaves to the Bhiwani airstrip soon after the rally. As Bishnoi and Sharma huddle into a Sikorsky S-76 chopper, Bishnoi explains that Modi’s three rallies in the region spoiled their scheduled as he was to pick up Sharma from Ambala for the Bhiwani rally while coming from the Pataudi rally that day. “Don’t blame me for it. Blame Mr Modi,” he quickly adds.
The leaders discuss prospects of various candidates hesitantly as the chopper flies to Safidon in Jind where Sharma has to address a rally. Bishnoi cannot participate as the chopper has to be flown back before sunset to Hisar. As the chopper lands at Safidon, he cannot resist going out for a few moments.
He feels sorry to a worker for not staying, and as the chopper gets permission to fly, he sits back, waving his hands at the crowd.
“I have hired the chopper for 25 days. I had to make this arrangement. I am travelling across the state, five segments a day,” he says, as the chopper starts its journey to Hisar.
On the way, he talks of how he fits the bill for CM-ship “being an educated, young leader with a clean image”. He claims he would form the government with like-minded parties; but refuses to elaborate.
“The media asks me about my party’s prospects after the BJP snapping ties with us. But I am in a win-win situation. Had we fought the election with them, we would have suffered losses,” he says, asking a co-passenger to look for patties or something else to eat in a box under the seats. As the chopper flies into Hisar region, he asks everyone to look out, and mentions how greenery has vanished as compared to Jind as there was scarcity of water in the area. By the time the chopper lands at Hisar, his convoy is already there. Thanking the pilots, he heads into the city. He rolls down the window of his Audi Q7 and asks the driver to slow down. He keeps waving to people as the convoy heads to his Sector-15 house.
The next public meeting is at 7pm in Mahavir Colony, and Kuldeep is late here as well by an hour. He hits the podium at 8pm amid drizzling. While other leaders are busy in speeches, he asks a youngster, who had been requesting for a picture with Bishnoi for quite some time, to come on stage.
He begins is speech by calling his local candidate a minister, claiming that he was sure of victory. And then he starts with bashing the BJP, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Congress, though he spares local Congress MLA Savitri Jindal. “Whatever facilities the city has, are due to Bhajan Lal (Bishnoi’s father). Give me a chance and I will work so much so that I won’t need to visit this area again to seek votes,” he says, underlining that “when” he becomes CM he would make candidate Gautam Sardana a minister.
At a public meeting in Mill Gate area, he says, “Modi says Congress should give 60 years’ report card before asking him for a 100-day report card. Arey Modi-ji, it’s not Congress asking for a report card; it’s the people to whom you made lofty promises.”
As the convoy heads out, close aides discuss the next destination, unsure of whether he will go to Adampur or rest at the Sector-15 house.