For voters in Pataudi, the choice is between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in the coming Lok Sabha polls, as they are unhappy with the current government.
The assembly constituency consists of Pataudi block along with some villages from Farrukhnagar and Manesar. With 71 panchayats in the Pataudi block, the electoral behaviour still depends largely on caste based voting.
Locals say that the Pataudi palace situated in the heart of this town, called Ibrahim Kothi, is often frequented by the royal family, which includes Saif Ali Khan, sister Soha Ali Khan, wife Kareena Kapoor, mother Sharmila Tagore and friends from the Bollywood fraternity.
Swanky cars pass by this sleepy town regularly without noticing the lack of infrastructure that residents don’t even complain about now.
The biggest concern of the local residents is the lack of good roads in rural areas of Pataudi. At most places, the important roads connecting to the villages are broken. The government’s alleged lack of interest in providing employment opportunities here has also invoked the wrath of the locals. This has led to many unwilling to vote for the Congress again.
Other issues include drinking water and playground for the children. “The sewer and water lines mixed and we get dirty water that is not fit for drinking. People fall ill because of contaminated water,” complained Bal Kishan from Hailey Mandi.
Despite holding historical significance and a celebrity connect; nobody from the Pataudi family seems to be interested in contesting the elections.
An Ahir dominated area, most villages here have been voting for Rao Inderjit Singh and his ancestors for years. His recent shift to the BJP seems to have improved his image and people seem to be agreeing with his reason for quitting the Congress.
“Most people here will keep voting for him even if he doesn’t do anything for us. He made the right decision by switching parties as the corrupt Congress would not have let a honest leader like him survive,” said Om Prakash from Mirzapur village.
The sentiment is echoed in other villages including Chhawan, Chhilarki, Dadawas, Darapur, Quni-Daultabad, Deval Was, Fazilwas and Pathredi.
Some areas with a predominant Jat population, however, are Chautala family loyals and still voting in the name of former chief minister Devi Lal.
“My son was employed by the state government, he lost his job because of the Congress party, and he is unemployed for the past nine years. The government has not done anything to provide more employment opportunities,” said Rohtash Singh, an ex-serviceman from Milakpur village.
The present government has invited more controversy after it abolished an industrial security force established by the previous Chautala-led government. This move left over 3500 people jobless. A case is still going on in the Punjab and Haryana high court.
The BJP and INLD is taking advantage of this situation and the issue was raised again in Abhay Chautala’s public meeting in Pataudi on Tuesday.
Unlike the city, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) still seems to lack acceptability in the rural areas, despite the Gurgaon candidate Yogendra Yadav belonging to the dominant caste here. Meanwhile, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) may win some Harijan votes.