More than 1.3 million people are expected to cast their votes in the Hisar Lok Sabha by-poll on Thursday, in which the Congress, Haryana Janhit Congress-Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) are locked in a triangular contest.
The seat fell vacant after three-time chief minister Bhajan Lal’s death in June this year. In total, there are 40 candidates in the fray. The result will be declared on October 17.
The Hisar by-poll is being billed as a test of strength between the Jats and the non-Jats. Hisar has around 460,000 Jat voters, constituting the single largest caste. Among the non-Jats, there are about 80,000 Brahmins, 265,000 backward classes, 257,000 Scheduled Castes, 65,000 Punjabis, 45,000 Banias and 36,000 Bishnoi.
Two Jats—Congress candidate Jai Prakash, 56, and INLD candidate Ajay Chautala, 50 —are locking horns with the
HJC-BJP candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi, 43.
There is plenty at stake for the three main candidates.
Bhajan Lal’s son Bishnoi needs to win to secure his own political future and the longevity of the HJC-BJP alliance.
For Ajay Chautala, son of another former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, a victory will bolster his own standing within the INLD at a time when his family is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
But the risks could be the highest for the ruling Congress party and its candidate Jai Prakash. He lost the 2009 election in Hisar to Bhajan Lal as well as the election for the Adampur assembly segment to Bishnoi the same year.
Adding to his woes, and his party’s, is the anti-Congress campaign on which associates of the anti-corruption campaigner Anna Hazare have embarked. Hazare has declared he will continue to urge people to vote against the
Congress in various assembly elections as well. Prakash’s loss here can underline Hazare’s electoral impact ahead of polls in Uttar Pradesh and several other states next year.
The constituency has nine assembly segments — Uchana Kalan, Adampur, Uklana, Narnaund, Hansi, Barwala, Hisar, Nalwa and Bawani Khera.