Equating chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his Congress regime with corruption, and Om Prakash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) with “goondaism”, BJP president Amit Shah on Thursday urged the electorate of Haryana to give a chance to the saffron party this time in the state that goes to polls soon.
At his maiden rally in the state after being appointed the party chief, a host of leaders from other parties joined the BJP. Shah thanked the people for giving seven of the 10 Lok Sabha seats to the BJP. That result was seen as above-expectation for a party that had played second fiddle to the INLD in the past and had failed to make a mark on its own later.
Interestingly, former partner INLD had sought votes in the Lok Sabha polls in the name of BJP’s leader and now-PM Narendra Modi; but the BJP still has its alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), albeit there are fissures appearing. At the rally, Shah boldly declared the seat-sharing with the HJC would be done as per the LS poll formula — effectively giving HJC 18 of 90 seats — even as the HJC has demanded a 45-each equation.
Thursday’s ‘Vijay Sankalp Rally’ was organised by state unit chief Ram Bilas Sharma at the New Vegetable Market here, where Shah sought votes for “non-stop development projects from the Centre led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi”. It was held also to flag off poll rallies in “all four directions” by party leaders, but that part was postponed tentatively for August 19 when Modi is to hold a rally at Kaithal.
Reaching the venue three hours late, Shah in his address urged the people to “break the cycle of INLD’s Chautala and Congress’s Hooda”. Lashing out at Hooda, he said the state government “has no match in setting records of scams over land that belong to martyrs and farmers”. He added, “Instead of serving the public, he (Hooda) remained more concerned about his courtiers and political bosses sitting in Delhi.” He also named former minister Gopal Kanda, sports minister Sukhbir Kataria, chief parliamentary secretary Ram Kishan Fauji and co-operatives minister Satpal Sangwan as some of the leaders who had “defamed this land”. Hitting out at the INLD in equal measure, the strongman from Gujarat said that even Chautala had ruled earlier but “they served the agenda of favouritism on the basis of caste and area”.
Playing the Modi card, he reiterated that if the BJP got majority, “Haryana will see unmatched development on priority basis, as Modi had promised during his (LS poll) rallies”. Specifically to strike a chord with farmers and ex-servicemen, he said that, as the party campaign chief, Modi had chosen Rewari as his first rally venue in the honour of ex-servicemen and farmers on September 15 last year.
At the rally, besides state chief Sharma, union ministers KP Gujjar, Gen VK Singh (retd) and Rao Inderjit Singh, Haryana BJP incharge Jagdish Mukhi, co-incharge Anil Jain, ML Khattar, OP Dhankar, Capt Abhimanyu, and MPs Dharambir, Raj Kumar Saini and Ashwani Chopra, were present.
Joining BJP: Leaders turn saffron in poll season
As the BJP seeks to ride the Modi wave in the Haryana assembly polls, a large number of leaders from other parties joined the party at the rally in here the presence of BJP chief Amit Shah. Most of those who switched over were those denied a ticket by their party or not expected to get a nomination for the Vidhan Sabha elections. These included Balbir Singh Saini, former minister, INLD; Phool Singh Kheri, INLD MLA; Banta Ram Balmiki, ex-MLA, INLD; Harsh Kumar and Chattar Pal, former Congress ministers; ML Ranga, former INLD minister who had joined the Congress; Subhash Katyal, former minister; Raj Kumar Balmiki, former Congress MLA; Krishan Kumar, former INLD MLA; Roshan Lal Arya, former Congress MLA; Jogi Ram, former MLA; Jagjit Sangwan, former NCP MLA; Uday Singh Dalal, former Congress MLA; Ram Rattan, former MLA; Kanta Ahlarai, Indian Bahujan Sandesh Party chief; Virender Pal, former INLD MLA; DP Vats, former chairman, HPSC; Azad Singh Toor, former diplomat; and advocate Raj Bala of the HJC.