An Independent, Ravinder Kumar Machhrauli, who was convicted in a criminal case five years ago, is giving a tough competition to candidates of all mainstream political parties in Samalkha, where the caste factor can play a key role.
In the 2009 poll, Dharam Singh Chhokar was elected on the Haryana Janhit Congress ticket but later he along with four other HJC MLAs defected to the Congress. Their switching of loyalties was challenged in the high court and on October 9, the court disqualified them as MLAs under the anti-defection law. A former cop and a matriculate, Chhokar is a Gujjar leader.
To give Chhokar a challenge at his hometurf, the INLD has fielded a Gujjar, Ram Bhateri, a political novice. BJP’s Shashikant Kaushik, a moneyed political greenhorn, is a Brahmin. Independent candidate Ravinder Kumar Machhrauli is probably the only candidate contesting the polls this time who has undergone imprisonment after being convicted by a court. He was a cop and was dismissed from the service. As per his election papers, 42-year-old Machhrauli was sentenced to 15-month imprisonment by the then chief judicial magistrate, Ambala, Praveen Gupta on February 4, 2009. He was held guilty of assault to deter public servant from discharging of his duty (Section 353), hurting public servant (332) and criminal intimidation (506) of the IPC.
A case was registered against Machhrauli at Baldev Nagar police station, Ambala, on May 17, 2000. After his release from jail, he started building ground for a political career and began offering free transportation service to various health and educational institutes to woo poor voters of the constituency. Machhrauli is the only Jat candidate in fray here and is trying to consolidate voters from his community as well.
However, Chhokar is confident of his victory and enjoys full support of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Despite his disqualification as MLA, Chhokar was allowed to share stage with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi during a recent political function at Ganaur in Sonepat.
“I seek votes for my work. Your support is needed to form Congress government for the third consecutive time,” Chhokar said during door-to-door campaign. He that besides jobs for the local youth, a government university and a medical college top his agenda.
With no political background, BJP’s Kaushik, a builder, is banking on PM Narendra Modi. “Like Modi-ji, I will also work as a sewak and will not behave like a neta. Inclusive development is the key issue,” he said while addressing a group of residents in an interior Mohali village, located near the Uttar Pradesh border.
INLD’s Ram Bhateri is expected to get sizeable share of votes from her community as well as the party’s cadre of Jat voters in the rural areas. She is also being supported by a section of local Congress leaders from a camp that is against Chhokar. Former MLA and a political turncoat Bharat Singh Chhokar, who is with INLD, is with her too.