So straight does this contest look that even punters would not risk a bet here. Nearly a decade- long antiincumbency, accusations of nepotism flying thick and fast, and an out- of- action sitting MP — just the kind of recipe needed for creating a flutter and probably an upset on the home turf of Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. But it could well be a case of opportunity lost.
The opposition would have no one but themselves to blame as the pick of candidates to challenge the supremacy of the Hoodas has left a lot to be desired. The CM’s son Deepender Singh Hooda, a two time Congress MP, won’t mind it as he takes a shot at a hat-trick from Rohtak.
Add to Hooda’s basket the unprecedented creation of physical infrastructure, giving out of jobs and, most importantly, the jingle of “Rohtak ki Chaudhar”, and the multicornered contest looks firmly tilted in favour of Hooda Junior.
For Deepender, who has opted out of the campaigning following a back injury, it is the social media drives like ‘Main bhi Deepender’, asking supporters to take up canvassing on his behalf; and a string of party MLAs and family members who are navigating his campaign. “Uska election to log lad rahe hain (His election is being fought by the people),” says CM Hooda.
The BJP, which looked set to field former MLA Naresh Malik, seems to have made a mistake by fielding Om Parkash Dhankar. Even a better equipped Capt Abhimanyu, BJP’s national spokesperson, was left out.
The INLD’s decision to field Shamsher Kharkhadda, too, seems to be goaded more by his performance as an Independent candidate from Meham assembly seat in 2009, where he finished runner-up to Anand Singh Dangi.
Political observers say that while the two other Jats — Kharkhadda and Dhankar — and the Aam Aadmi Party’s Brahmin choice Naveen Jaihind may not be able match Deepender’s pull, particularly amongst the Jat voters, the three have the potential to sway a sizeable chunk of voters by raking up the issue of favouritism in jobs, failure of special economic zone (SEZ) in Jhajjar and “prejudice treatment” to the Ahir-dominated Kosli assembly segment.
This is what BJP nominee Dhankar, who comes from Dhakla village of Jhajjar, is trying to do as he concentrates on Jhajjar, Bahadurgarh and Kosli. The idea is to draw a comparison between Jhajjar-Rewari and Rohtak.
Dhankar can hope to draw a slight advantage in Kosli where Congressman-turned - BJP candidate from Gurgaon, Rao Inderjit Singh, is lending a helping hand. In der jit’s younger bro- ther, Rao Yaduvendra Singh, though is a Congress MLA from Kosli.
AAP’s Jaihind is banking more on the party’s mantra of aspiration-driven change as he focuses on the youth and women voters.
To his advantage, Jaihind has toured the entire constituency and remains an attraction for Brahmins.
Kharkhadda, who lost to Cong ress le gislator Dangi by a slender margin in 2009 assembly polls, is trying to raise emotive issues such as welfare of far mers, while having a go on the Hoodas. At every public platfor m, the INLD candidate’s slogan remains: “Bhrasht BhupinderKamzor Deepender” (corrupt Bhupinder-weak Deepender). Recent well-attended meeting and rally at Garhi-Sampla-Kiloi (the constituency of the CM) and Meham would keep his hopes afloat.
WATCH OUT FOR KOSLI
Voters’ mood in the Ahirdominated Kosli assembly segment will be keenly watched as it will also have a bearing on the assembly polls later this year.
This assembly segment has the highest number of voters — over 2.5 lakh — out of the nine assembly seats that fall in the Rohtak parliamentary constituency.