After the announcement for the October-15 assembly polls was made, a fierce battle has erupted between the supporters of three-time MLA and Congress candidate Anand Singh Dangi and his arch rival, BJP candidate Shamsher Singh Kharakara to wrest the Meham seat.
In the 2009 assembly elections, Shamsher, a resident of Kharkara village in the constituency and an Independent candidate then, lost to Dangi, a native of Madina village, by a margin of 6,966 votes.
Meham, Jat-dominated constituency shot to prominence when former deputy prime minister Devi Lal was elected from here on three occasions — 1982, 1985 bypoll and 1987. In the latter election, his party won 85 out of 90 seats in the assembly.
Till then, Meham Chaubishi (a cluster of 24 villages) used to play a key role in the electoral politics of the area, but it backed out after poll violence in 1990. Devi Lal, a native of Sirsa district, 180 km from here, who was popularly known as ‘Tau’ was installed as chief minister for the second time.
This time, the entry of Satish Dass, a ‘mahant’ of a local ‘dera’ who has large following in villages, on the INLD ticket has made it a triangular contest for the Meham seat, with two Jat stalwarts — Dangi and Kharkara — already in the poll fray.
Ram Mehar, an octogenarian from Madina village, said while voters of Dangi and Kharkara can be easily identified, being a religious figure, Dass could make a dent in the vote share of the two, apart from the support he enjoys in area near Samain village.
Staunch followers of Dangi and Kharkara are predicting a thumping victory of respective leaders and the two also don’t mind taking potshots at each other.
Dangi, who was elected MLA in 2005 and 2009 from Meham, said, “Politics is not a business for me like my BJP rival, who keeps hopping from one party to another just to stay relevant.”
Kharkara contested the recent Lok Sabha poll on Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) ticket, but later switched loyalties to the saffron party and was fielded as party candidate for assembly poll.
“I, too, have faith in the Samain dera, whose head is INLD candidate, but people have faith in temple not in Satish Dass,” said Kharkara, on being asked on whom he considers his main rival.
On the Congress, he said that era is gone, today is the Modi era. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally would bring saffron revolution to the agrarian state, he told HT.
As he was talking to HT at his Meham office on NH-10, a supporter came rushing to him and complained that police have seized party flags from his possession. Rebuking him and asking the party supporter to disappear in front of his eyes, Kharkara told him, “You have no right to come to me, as you got my flag snatched away and fled.”
During his poll campaign at Balamba — one of the biggest village in Meham — youths marching ahead of the cavalcade were shouting slogans in favour of Kharkara while the name of the BJP or Modi was not heard.
Some distance ahead, Congress candidate Anand Singh Dangi had reached a supporter’s house at Balamba village and while sitting on a parked tractor, he told HT that he was still the son of soil.
“People of my constituency know me as Anand, a farmer, not as an MLA or a politician,” he said. Seeing mediapersons and a photographer clicking pictures, one of his supporters called out that Dangi would win by a margin of 3 lakh votes. Making light of the claim, Dangi questioned that how anyone can win by this much margin, when there are total 1.2 lakh voters (sic) in the constituency.
The third key contestant in the fray, Satish Dass, the INLD nominee from Meham, is popular as ‘Baba’ here. He is banking on his religious image to make voters choose a candidate with clean image who harbours no dream of accumulating wealth.
“Hum to bus seva karna chahtay hain. Samain dera say jo kuch bhi income aati hain, who sab dharam kay kaamo mein lagaya jata hain. Agar moka milla to Meham ki janta kay liye ab rajniti kay madhyam say kuch karna chahta hoon (I just want to serve people. Whatever income comes from Samain dera is spent on people’s welfare. Now, I want to serve Meham’s electorate by medium of politics),” he said.
The Congress is upbeat as party’s national president Sonia Gandhi would kickstart the Haryana campaign by conducting first poll rally at Meham on October 4.
Key contestants: Anand Singh Dangi: Congress
Shamsher Singh Kharkara: BJP
Satish Dass: INLD
2009 poll result: Congress Anand Singh Dangi won by a margin of 6,966 votes.
Total votes: 1.6 lakh
Scheduled Caste: 37,000
Backward Class: 17,000