A multi-cornered battle is on cards in Kalka, one of the oldest sub-divisions of Haryana, and if four-time MLA and former deputy chief minister Chander Mohan, brother of Haryana Janhit Congress supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi, also throws down the gauntlet the contest would become spicy.
Kalka was once a Congress stronghold as the party had been winning the seat consistently from 1991 till 2005. Chander Mohan won four successive elections — 1993, 1996, 2000 and 2005 — on Congress ticket. Then in 2009, Pardeep Chaudhary, a Gujjar leader of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), who till then was a persistent loser, won the seat as Chander Mohan did not contest.
For the coming assembly elections, the INLD has already declared Chaudhary’s candidature, who had lost elections in 2005 to Chander Mohan by a margin of 61,456 votes. Chaudhary came third in 1996 and finished second to Chander Mohan in 1993.
Chander Mohan had married an advocate, Anuradha Bali, after converting to Islam and adopting the names of Chand Mohammad and Fiza on December 2, 2008. On January 29, 2009, he left Fiza, saying he still loved his first wife and his children.
Kalka has a substantial number of people from almost all the castes, including Gujjars, Banias, Rajputs, Brahmins and Dalits, so mobilisation around a particular caste would backfire.
From the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Virender Singh Bhau is frontrunner for the ticket. He was earlier with the Congress and had recently joined the saffron party. In 2009, he fought elections as an Independent and secured 2,800 votes. But the BJP camp is upbeat as their candidate Rattan Lal Kataria had polled over 58,000 votes in 2014 Lok Sabha elections and was ahead of the Congress candidate by over 34,000 votes, while the INLD came poor third with close to 15,000 votes.
The Congress has tough task ahead. Satvinder Singh Rana who miserably lost to Pardeep Chaudhary in 2009 is expecting the ticket again. He has been seen attending functions of both Rajya Sabha member Kumari Selja and chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Last time, he got ticket from Selja’s quota. He came second with just over 20,000 votes and lost by a margin of over 21,000 votes to Chaudhary in 2009. Rana had faced two prominent Congress rebels, Bhagat Singh and Vijay Bansal, last time.
Meanwhile, Selja loyalists All India Youth Congress general secretary Chetan Chauhan and Raj Singh Chauhan have also applied for the party ticket. Manvir Kaur Gill, niece of former minister Lachhman Singh, is also in the race for the Congress ticket from Kalka.
Vijay Bansal, who was earlier with Chander Mohan, fought the last election on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket but lost by a margin of 5,000 votes. This time he has got ticket from Gopal Kanda’s Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP). His stature has risen as being an RTI activist and whose petitions led to mining ban and formation of government policy on poultry farms.