In the last couples of years, there’s been a boom in the business of reverse-osmosis plants for packaged drinking water in Faridabad, especially in Badkhal region. They are not only meeting the demands of the area, but also supplying to faraway places across the country. Evidently, the tap water supplied by the civic authorities is not fit for drinking.
No wonder, potable water as a poll issue has ignited much heat in Badkhal. “Badkhal provides drinking water for large parts of the country, but its own people are struggling to get even a drop of clean water,” says Seema Trikha, the BJP candidate.
On the back of this issue and the purported wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trikha is hoping defeat sitting MLA and cabinet minister Mahendra Pratap Singh of the Congress. Since 1977, when Singh became MLA for the first time from Mewla Maharajpur — the erstwhile assembly segment that was merged into the new constituency of Badkhal after the 2007 delimitation — has represented the area in the Vidhan Sabha five times and remained minister twice.
Former municipal councillor Trikha is contesting the assembly elections for the second successive time, having lost on her debut in 2009 to Singh by a margin of around 12,000 votes.
She is ballistic, and confident: “The Congress government has failed to do much for the area and even deprived the locals of the basic amenities. So, people want change. Also, the political equation within the constituency has changed in the last five years. The past margin is not an issue.” Trikha belongs to the Punjabi community, which has around 60,000 votes of the total 2.15 lakh.
Singh is the tallest Gujjar leader of the Congress in the larger Gujjar-dominated belt of Faridabad-Gurgaon. In Badkhal, though, there are around 37,000 Gujjar votes.
Seeking votes on ‘development’
Singh, who holds the portfolios of food and civil supplies, technical education and revenue in the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government, is seeking votes in the name of development work that he carried out in the area. During his campaign, he’s quick to rattle out a list of projects for every colony or village.
“If you feel I carried out development in the constituency, give me your vote. And if you feel I failed to perform, just don’t vote for me,” says Singh, while campaigning in the Punjabi-dominated New Industrial Town (NIT) area of the constituency. After his strong opening shot, Singh is quick to mellow down: “I have come here to take wages of the work that I did. I hope you will not disappoint me.”
He plays the community card: “My elder son is married in a Punjabi family, so I am your relative too!”
‘Modi rally a boost’
Modi’s rally for the Faridabad region was organised at the Dussehra Ground that falls in Badkhal. And Trikha thinks she got a boost after that: “The party had asked me what I needed. I had replied that I only needed Modi-ji here. His rally has injected life into the cadre. Since then, with each passing day more and more people are actively participating in the campaigning.”
She underlines that during the Lok Sabha elections the party’s candidate from the area, Krishan Pal Gujjar, had got a good lead that contributed to his win. “Now, everyone has seen the performance of Modi-ji in, and for development they will vote for us,” she adds.
Better than Gujarat
But Singh says there is no Modi wave this time. “I don’t deny that a Modi wave was there at the time of the Lok Sabha elections. But now, the Modi bubble has burst,” he says. “Modi follows the Tomasz Goban theory where you keep telling a lie hundred times and people start accepting it as the truth. He gives wrong figures in his speeches and expects people to believe him. If you compare Gujarat with Haryana, Modi’s state stands nowhere in front of the growth that has taken place under Hooda in Haryana. Whether it is power production, old age pension or automobile production, Haryana is way ahead of Gujarat,” underlines Singh.
From the INLD, former MLA Chander Bhatia, who belongs to the Punjabi community, is the candidate, while the BSP has fielded Dharambir Bhadana, a Gujjar, who has business interests in mining.
Bhatia is a second-generation politician and remained a BJP MLA after winning from Faridabad in 1996 and 2000.
Cong: Mahendra Pratap Singh
BJP: Seema Trikha
INLD: Chander Bhatia
BSP: Dharambir Bhadana
2009 poll result: Mahendra Pratap Singh of Congress won by 12,679 votes.
Total votes: 2.15 lakh
Other BC: 18,000