Opposition parties are gearing up to field the most suitable candidates to take on two-time Congress MP and billionaire industrialist Naveen Jindal, who is an accused in the coal block allocation scam.
Though Jindal’s name figuring in the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has caused much embarrassment to the Congress, the party does not have any replacement for the MP, who is known for his clout with the central party leadership.
Jindal’s father late Om Prakash Jindal was elected MP from here as a Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) candidate in 1996 (the party was floated by former Congressman and chief minister Bansi Lal). Later, the senior Jindal switched loyalty to the Congress. The Kurukshetra MP’s mother, Savitri Jindal, is a cabinet minister in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government.
According to political observers, sources in the state Congress and even opposition leaders, Jindal is the best bet for the Congress.
Party insiders say that former MP Kailasho Saini is also lobbying for the ticket. Saini had represented Kurukshetra in 1998 and 1999 as the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) candidate. When denied the ticket in 2009, she had joined the Congress. Saini is said to have an influence in her backward class community, which is regarded as a significant vote bank.
A majority of the voters in Kurukshetra are Jats, yet surprisingly no Jat has ever won the Lok Sabha elections here. Political analysts say that it’s the combination of Jat, Sikh and Saini voters that decides the outcome.
The Kurukshetra parliamentary seat came into being after delimitation in 1977. Earlier, it was known as the Kaithal Lok Sabha segment, from where eminent Gandhian Gulzari Lal Nanda was elected twice as a Congress candidate. Nanda had become the caretaker prime minister twice and is best known for his efforts to facelift the famous ‘tirthas’ of the historic city of Kurukshetra.
Meanwhile, in the INLD, two political turncoats and former legislators are in the fray for the ticket. Prominent leader from the Saini community Balbir Singh Saini is seen as a frontrunner. The 60-year-old former BJP leader was elected as a Lok Dal (now INLD) candidate in 1987 from Pehowa assembly segment in the district.
Another INLD leader, Kharaiti Lal Sharma, who won as the BJP candidate (1991) and the Congress nominee (2005) from Shahbad assembly constituency in the district, is also seen as a prominent contender. After Shahbad was declared a constituency reserved for Scheduled Castes, Sharma was not fielded by the Congress. He was appointed chairman of the Haryana Gau Sewa Commission by the Hooda government, but he quit the office in August last year to join the INLD.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s district president Dhumman Singh Kirmach is a frontrunner for the ticket, apart from former minister Raj Kumar Saini. Kirmach has never contested any election, but party sources say that he may woo voters of his Jat community.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is spreading its wings in the segment with the active support of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), has announced the candidature of Balwinder Kaur, wife of BKU state president Gurnam Singh Chaduni.