This seat has been in focus as the BJP has fielded Vandana Sharma, younger sister of Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, in what is the former political science teacher’s poll debut.
Senior leaders of the saffron party, including Sushma, have held several public rallies, and Sushma’s pictures along with PM Narendra Modi have been splashed on posters, handbills and other election materials of Vandana, who has a doctorate in political science, the subject she taught at a college in nearby Narwana.
She is banking on the sustenance of the Modi wave and the party’s core urban vote. Though BJP had finished fifth in the last assembly elections, it must be noted that its Panipat Lok Sabha candidate Ramesh Kaushik had a lead of over 15,000 from Safidon.
‘For the people’
“I am contesting an election for the first time, and on a BJP ticket without an alliance, but I am here for and because of the people of Safidon,” Sharma told HT. “The Congress, INLD and all others have always betrayed and failed the people here. Modi and BJP mean collective progress and development, and I am confident we will set a new precedent.”
But sitting INLD MLA Kali Ram Patwari appears unfazed as he undertakes his back-to-back public meetings in rural as well as urban areas: “Safidon has never elected an outsider, and she is one.”
He dismisses any Modi factor: “Modi ki yahan koi hawa nahin hai, yahan sirf ek hawa hai; voh hai Chautala-ji ki (There is no Modi wave here; there’s only a wave of INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala).” At his meetings, an affable Patwari seeks votes by saying there would be an INLD government in Haryana.
Chautala is also scheduled to hold a rally for him in Safidon.
Congress candidate Bachan Singh Arya, who has been MLA twice, once on Congress ticket in 1991 and as Independent in 2005, had lost the 2009 election to Patwari. A Gujjar leader, Arya too is going full throttle on the Congress plank of overall development.
“Aap jaante ho maine hamesha jaat-paat, amiri-garibi, apna-paraya ki rajniti se uppar utth ke sab ke vikas ke liye sangharsh kiya hai,” he tells his supporters at his rallies, claiming that he had always risen above the politics of selfishness, caste, creed and class, and worked for growth of everyone.
The election campaign of Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Karambir Saini too finds good response here because of the over 60,000 voters from the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes. Saini had contested in 2005 and got about 26,000 votes. A farmer by profession, Saini has since long been associated with the party and is known for his social work.
Independent Jasbir Deswal too appears to have strong following among Jats who are in a large in number in Safidon. A known, affluent philanthropist, Deswal, who also has businesses abroad, is known in the constituency as his elder brother Ranbir Deswal had contested the assembly election on a ticket of the erstwhile Haryana Vikas Party (which had alliance with BJP) in 1996 and lost to Samata Party’s Jat candidate Ramphal Kundu by just about 4,000 votes.