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Candidates trying to cash in on sympathy factor

chandigarh Updated: Oct 11, 2014 10:09 IST
Vishal Joshi

Jat contestants of this predominantly rural segment are exploiting sympathy factor to win what is being seen as a triangular contest.

Entry of a political turncoat and former union minister Jai Prakash (JP) as an Independent candidate has made the electoral battle interesting.

Sitting legislator of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) Ram Pal Majra is alleging conspiracy behind conviction of his party president Om Prakash Chautala in the JBT teachers’ recruitment scam to gain sympathy of rural voters.

Like his party’s official line, Majra says the conviction of ex-chief minister Chautala was allegedly an outcome of a political conspiracy of the Congress government.

After delimitation, Kalayat came into existence in the 2009 polls and Majra had defeated Tejender Pal Singh Mann of the Congress by a margin of 9,400 votes.

Congress candidate and an affluent businessman, Ranvir Mann (better known as Bobby Mann) is a political greenhorn and relying on the popularity of his late father and Congress leader Tejender Pal Singh Mann.

Unable to bear the tragic death of his wife and two other close relatives in July last year during the Kedarnath pilgrimage, Tejender Mann died within few weeks.

The Congress is banking on the “popularity” of the late Jat leader, Tejender, to gain sympathy for the next generation. Similarly, JP is reaching out to people to claim that he was cheated by a section of the Congress leadership under a calculated conspiracy to accommodate an outsider, Bobby.

At his election office at Ashoka Nursery, Kaithal bypass, JP commands his aides to ensure presence of few youths of the area who got government jobs due to his (JP’s) efforts at his election rallies scheduled to be held various villages.

“After I got active in my home constituency, the Congress leadership had assured me of the ticket. Bobby is a resident of New Delhi and according to election papers, he is facing several criminals charges. But despite all this Randeep Surjewala, PWD minister and Congress nominee from adjoining Kaithal constituency, lobbied for him and scuttled my prospects,” JP said at a well-attended gathering at Narar village.

Once known as chief of ‘Green Brigade’, JP was initially with the Lok Dal (now INLD). At the age of 32, he became a deputy union minister after he won his first Lok Sabha election in 1989 as Janata Dal candidate, defeating senior Jat leader of the then Congress leader Birender Singh, who is now in the BJP.

JP, a resident of Dubal village in the constituency, told HT that response by the youth infuses energy in him.

“Kabhi kabhi kisan ke neta ka naam Bobby ho sakta. Isse naam to filman ka hoya kare hain (Can Bobby be the name of a farmer leader? It sounds like a filmy name),” he says as residents of Jat-dominated Sega village applaud at the comment.

JP says he was asking his supporters to ensure Surjewala’s defeat. “Majra and Surjewala have a secret understanding to support each other in the elections but I will expose them,” said JP, who has an image of a tough politician.

Meanwhile, during a door-to-door campaign at Kheri Sher Khan, an interior village, Majra of the INLD urges a gathering to vote him to bring Chautala raj. “You voted for me in the 2009 elections but the Congress government penalised the entire segment for electing an INLD candidate from here. So, vote for me to make way for Chautala raj this time. Sare sankat door ho jayange,” he said at Balmiki basti.

Majra said his constant contact with people of the area would ensure his victory. He added that the charges of his opponents were baseless.

Congress nominee Bobby Mann admits to have the backing of Surjewala but quickly adds that his close aides in the party and outside were helping him in the canvassing.

“I am 15-month-old in the politics and know my supporters by their names. My father had worked for the uplift of the area. Bless me with your votes to help me realise my father’s dream,” he says at a gathering at Rajound.

Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidate Dharam Pal Sharma, who had recently quit the Congress with Birender Singh to join the saffron party, is banking on the clout of his mentor in Jat community.

It is seen that the BJP candidate would also try to consolidate the non-Jat voters in the contest.