In the 2009 assembly election, the main contest in Palwal was between the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Congress. The latter wrested the seat from the former with a margin of more than 6,000 votes and the BJP candidate came a distant third, bagging just 3,376 votes of the over one lakh votes that were polled. For the first time in Palwal, the BJP is a strong contender this time.
The BJP candidate, Deepak Mangla, is giving a tough time to sitting MLA Subhash Choudhary (INLD) and seasoned campaigner Karan Dalal (Congress), who remained MLA for four successive terms from 1991 to 2005 and was also a cabinet minister in Bansi Lal’s Haryana Vikas Party regime.
If Mangla is banking on the Modi wave, sitting MLA Subhash Choudhary is luring the voters by saying this time it will be Om Prakash Chautala at the helm. Choudhary says sending him to the Vidhan Sabha again will help him carry out development works, which couldn’t happen this time because he was in the Opposition.
On the other hand, Dalal, whose son is married to daughter of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s brother, is seeking votes in the name of the development works that he managed to get done despite not being the elected representative.
The BJP’s existence in the area is mainly due to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And the Modi factor is not only visible in Palwal, but in the two adjoining seats, Hatin and Hodal, where the BJP got just 650 and 350 votes, respectively, in 2009, but is in a strong position this time.
“The Modi factor was very much visible in the region during the Lok Sabha elections and BJP candidate Krishan Pal Gurjar winning the seat with a huge margin of 3.5 lakh votes has proven this fact. Now people has seen his performance as Prime Minister, so, in the last four months, his popularity has increased further and this time, too, people of Palwal will vote for him,” said Mangla, who has the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) background and had also remained president of the state BJP youth wing.
During his campaign at Rundhi village, Mangla, a sweet shop owner, draws a comparison with Modi. “This time in Palwal a slogan is doing the rounds: Upar chai wala, neeche mithai wala (A tea vendor has become Prime Minister and a sweet shop owner will be an MLA.)”
Though INLD’s Choudhary is sitting MLA, it’s the Congress candidate who is in the crosshairs of the BJP.
“Dalal who is a ‘samdhi’ of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has exploited the relationship and instead of carrying out development works using his contacts, he has abused power and is the one to be held responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation here,” said Mangla.
Though Choudhary accepts the increasing penetration of the BJP in Palwal, he rubbishes BJP workers’ claim of a Modi wave in the area. “No doubt, the BJP will get more votes this time as compared to the 2009 assembly poll and it will be because of the Modi factor. But the factor is not that strong here that it can help them win the seat. As far as a wave is concerned, it is the Chautala’s wave all around.
This time, the victory margin will be even bigger, for sure,” said Choudhary.
Asked about limited development works carried out in the area during his five-year tenure, Choudhary says, “Everybody knows that why Palwal was ignored. Despite my repetitive representations and even raising the issues in the assembly several times, the Hooda government didn’t pay heed. And now they have to pay for it.”
“Hooda sahib talks about Haryana becoming number one in sports but in Palwal we don’t have a stadium, forget the coaches. If the INLD forms government, getting sports facilities, women’s college and engineering college will be my priority.”
Seeking votes for development
Dalal’s family ties with Hooda have raised his stature in the area. Because of this he enjoys a good rapport with the local administration and it also helps him getting works done. But that too had invited criticism from his opponents as they alleged that he got works done only in few pockets or has favoured his near and dear ones.
“I am always ready to help people of Palwal. Whether MLA or not, I tried to do my best for the constituency. I was not an elected representative, but got many development work done here and people have appreciated development works carried out by the Hooda government and they will vote for the Congress, for sure,” said Dalal.