While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is claiming to form the next government in Haryana after its superlative performance in Lok Sabha polls, the road ahead for party’s chief ministerial aspirants is not smooth given the challenges they are facing in the run-up to the assembly polls.
BJP’s Mahendergarh candidate and state president Ram Bilas Sharma (65), who earned accolades for winning seven seats in the Lok Sabha elections, is facing a tough challenge after the rival party, Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) recently changed its candidate, apparently to upset his applecart.
Earlier, Rao Bahadur Singh, an Ahir leader and sitting MLA from Nangal Chaudhary, was fielded as INLD candidate from Mahendergarh. But now the party has fielded Nirmala Tanwar from Rajput community from the constituency where Rao Daan Singh of the Congress is sitting MLA.
On the change of INLD candidate, sources said since Rao Daan Singh, a prominent Ahir leader, is likely to be fielded by the Congress, the Ahir community’s 60,000 votes hold key to victory and may sway in favour of the sitting MLA.
INLD candidate Nirmala Tanwar may block another 10,000 votes of the Rajput community, which otherwise could have gone in favour of Ram Bilas Sharma, who hails from the Brahmin community that has 15,000 votes, sources added.
Similarly, another CM candidate, Capt Abhimanyu Sindhu (46), BJP’s national secretary and spokesperson, is contesting second time from Narnaund assembly segment — which comes under Hisar Lok Sabha seat — against INLD candidate Raj Singh Mor. Mor’s wife, Saroj is sitting MLA from Narnaund and had been elected from here twice, including in the 2009 polls when Capt Abhimanyu finished third.
In the recent Lok Sabha poll, INLD candidate Dushyant Chautala took a lead of 42,000 from Narnaund segment against the then BJP-HJC combined candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi, despite over-the-top campaigning by Capt Abhimanyu.
BJP Kisan Morcha national president OP Dhankhar (60), who is party candidate from Badli segment under Jhajjar district, has already faced opposition from locals with posters adorning walls accusing him of being an outsider.
Though Dhankar’s village, Dhakla, falls under Jhajjar district, he had settled in Charkhi-Dadri of Bhiwani district from where he had unsuccessfully contested an assembly poll earlier.
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his MP son Deepender Singh Hooda hold considerable influence here.
Former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader and BJP general secretary (organisation) ML Khattar (61), a Punjabi face who is saffron party’s candidate from Karnal segment, has already been slugging it out against his own party men who have tagged him as an outsider. Though in a recent statement Khattar said all estranged party supporters have come on board, inactive dissidents may surprise Khattar, who is contesting his first election in his four decades of political career.
Others who have been staking claim to the chief minister’s post — prominent Ahir leader and union minister Rao Inderjit Singh, Faridabad MP and former state president Krishan Pal Gurjar and veteran leader from the Banger region, Birender Singh are not contesting polls.