Never before a BJP list of candidates for the Haryana assembly elections drew so much attention as the 43 names declared by the party’s Central Election Committee on Tuesday night. The reason: the list is an assemblage of Congress and INLD turncoats besides BJP and RSS loyalists.
While the BJP has rewarded loyalty by putting up committed BJP and RSS cadres on 26 seats, it has also tried to break into the Jat vote bank of the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) by accommodating Congress and INLD turncoats.
The saffron party has tried to dispel the impression that it is a non-Jat centric outfit by giving tickets to as many as 14 Jat leaders (almost one-third of the first list), most of them Congress deserters who at one point or another switched sides to join the BJP.
In fact, out of the nine Congress turncoats fielded by the party, seven are Jat leaders. They are Prem Lata, wife of former Congress Rajya Sabha MP, Birender Singh from Uchana Kalan, former minister Jagdish Nehra from Rania, former Congress MLAs Krishna Gahlawat from Rai, Chattarpal Singh from Hansi, Harsh Kumar from Hathin, Master Hari Singh from Nalwa and Dharamvir Hooda from Garhi Sampla Kiloi. Among the three INLD deserters, Shamsher Singh Kharkhara (Meham) is the only Jat leader.
From the BJP stable, Abhimanyu Sindhu (Narnaund), Surender Punia (Barwala), Somveer Sangwan (Dadri), Om Prakash Dhankhar (Badli), Mahipal Dhanda (Panipat rural) and Subhash Bharala are the six Jat leaders who have been given tickets.
Another important aspect of Tuesday night’s ticket distribution is the importance accorded to Gurgaon MP and union minister of state for defence, Rao Inderjit Singh. Three supporters of Rao Inderjit’s Haryana Insaaf Manch, which he floated before joining the BJP – Vimla Choudhary (Pataudi), Om Prakash Yadav (Narnaul) and Banwari Lal (Bawal) – have been given party tickets.
However, the move has not gone down well with many home-grown BJP leaders in the Ahirwal belt who are feeling let down.
While a number of party leaders, including Rao Inderjit, Faridabad MP and union MoS Krishanpal Gujjar, Bhiwani-Mahendergarh MP Dharambir, Sonepat MP Ramesh Kaushik, Ambala MP RL Kataria and union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj are seeking tickets for the near and dear ones, the Central Election Committee on Tuesday night put on hold the decision. Sources said a decision on whether or not to accommodate the kinfolk will be taken soon. While Inderjit is seeking ticket for his daughter Aarti Rao, Gujjar is on lookout for a ticket for his son.
Dharambir and Ramesh Kaushik are also lobbying to get tickets for their brothers, Kataria for his wife, Banto Kataria and Swaraj for her sister from Safidon assembly seat.