The deputy chief minister during Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s first term as chief minister and elder son of three-time CM Bhajan Lal, Chander Mohan is trying to stage a political comeback from Nalwa on the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) ticket after remaining in political oblivion for six years.
Chander Mohan, who gave up deputy chief minister’s post and converted to Islam as Chand Mohammed to marry Haryana assistant advocate general Anuradha Bali aka Fiza in 2008 and a year later announced his divorce, makes his re-entry two years after Fiza ended her life at her SAS Nagar flat.
The four-time MLA from Kalka did not contest the 2009 assembly elections. In Nalwa this time, Chander Mohan faces senior Congress leader and sitting MLA Sampat Singh, who defeated his mother Jasma Devi in 2009 from here, and Ranbir Gangwa, a Rajya Sabha member, who is the Indian National Lok Dal candidate.
Hari Singh, who has served as political adviser to Bansi Lal and political secretary to Om Prakash Chautala and is fighting on the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket, is among 20-odd other candidates but the main contest is being seen between the HJC, INLD and Congress.
Factors at play
Chander Mohan, a Bishnoi, who is a new entrant in this segment, has advantage of having 15 villages merged with Nalwa after delimitation in 2009 from Adampur assembly segment, the home turf of his family.
Sector 15 of Hisar city, where the family lives, is also part of the seat and has pockets of support in urban areas like Arya Nagar, Azad Nagar and some other localities of the city.
As far as INLD candidate Ranbir Gangwa is concerned, being from a Kumhar family is helping him as Kumhars have a population of 18,000 in the segment, besides Jats, who are traditional voters of the INLD and constitute of 33% of the electorate. He comes from Gangwa village, hub of dera activities in Hisar district.
Fresh from his Lok Sabha poll defeat from Hisar seat, sitting MLA Sampat Singh, another Jat face, not only faces the anti-Congress sentiment but also division of Jat votes between the INLD, Congress and BJP.
Hari Singh also comes from a Jat family. Sampat Singh, a six-time MLA, claims he got projects worth Rs 1,000 crore in the segment in past five years. He won the seat by 10,000 votes in 2009. But in the recent Lok Sabha elections, Sampat Singh, who came third against MP Dushyant Chautala and HJC’s Kuldeep Bishnoi, could manage only 11,697 votes from Nalwa segment, which has over 1.5 lakh votes.
Family honour vs accessibility?
As workers wait for Chander Mohan to arrive at Seeswal village, workers, in a hushed tone, are talking about anonymous posters regarding the Chand-Fiza episode pasted in urban localities of the segment. They have instructions from top to inform party leaders about any such development. As a convoy arrives and Chander Mohan steps out of his Maruti Suzuki SX4 with folded hands, he heads towards a family amid sloganeering: “Mil gaya bhai mil gaya dusra Bhajan Lal hamen mil gaya.”
“You people please take care of everything. You know what you have to do. I won’t say anything. It’s matter of family’s honour. Put in some extra effort this time,” says Chander Mohan while visiting one family after the other in the village.
As the convoy heads to another village, Chander Mohan explains that he did not fight the 2009 election due to health reasons and became a victim of political conspiracy in the Chand-Fiza case.
“I feel bad for my family and I am thankful to them as they stood by me in bad times,” he says. “I am not an ambitious man. I did not want to fight from here. But it was party supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi’s order that I am obeying to help him become chief minister,” he adds.
As the HT team reaches a house at Shahpur Road locality of Arya Nagar, surrounded by locals and workers, INLD candidate Ranbir Singh Gangwa is seen chiding a man.
“Even if you went there, at least you should not have joined them on the dais. What would I tell others when my own people are not with me,” Gangwa asks one of his relatives, who recently attended a programme of the Haryana Janhit Congress in the area. Gangwa’s wife hails from the locality. Earlier, on the way to the locality, Gangwa says, “People know here what Chander Mohan is up to. We do not even like to discuss it in public.”
“As of Sampat Singh, people had already given their verdict in the Lok Sabha poll. The Congress has made the contest easy for me by fielding him,” Gangwa says when asked about his opponents.
Congress candidate Sampat Singh candidly admits that the party was going through a tough phase in the segment. But its prospects have gone up in this election, he feels.
As his convoy heads to Bishnoi Colony late in the evening, the Jat leader talks in detail about the development work being carried out in the segment by him and how the INLD played an obstructionist role.
“Throughout his life, Chander Mohan has not stayed here even for a month. Their house was unlocked just before the polls and they have come to contest election here. As of Gangwa, he has been fielded by the INLD to keep him happy. Such candidates are a blessing in disguise for me,” says Singh as he steps out of his Tata Safari car to address a public meeting.
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