Candidate selection has become a tall order for the Congress and BJP in Haryana's industrial hub of Faridabad. The emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the electoral scene after their smashing debut in the Delhi Assembly elections has changed the equations for the national parties significantly.
If sources in both the BJP and the Congress are to be believed, the arch rivals are waiting for the fledgling party to take the first step and announce its candidate. Even though the date for the election (April 10) has been announced, no major party has announced its candidates.
Being an industrial township the pace of development in the city has been more or less satisfactory with many flyovers, setting up of industrial model township and the extension of Metro connectivity. However, when it comes to choosing the candidates, the voters' caste mix is expected to top the list of eligibility for most players.
As Jats dominate this parliamentary constituency followed by Gujjars, in the last few decades, the candidate from these castes have won the seat. Whereas sitting Congress MP Avtar Singh Bhadana, a Gujjar, has represented the seat for three terms (1991, 2004 and 2009), BJP's Ram Chander Bainda, a Jat, has also won this seat three times (1996, 1998 and 1999).
Of the nine assembly seats that fall under the Faridabad Lok Sabha seat, the Congress had won four (all in Faridabad district) while the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) got two seats. The BJP won one seat while Independents managed two seats.
Bhadana and Bainda lead the aspirants for Congress and BJP tickets respectively. However, AAP has interviewed about 90 ticket-seekers of whom five are leading the pack — Purshotam Dagar, Dr Sandeep Gupta, HS Rana, Sandeep Chaudhary and Kiran Chaudhary.
Rumours of INLD fielding noted lawyer RK Anand are also doing the rounds.
But young voters in Faridabad are looking for change from the traditional caste-based politics and are seeking a new agenda. "I believe any candidate who has a clean image, irrespective of his caste, should be voted for. He should be someone who would be able to take up the real issues such as clean water, good roads, reduction in electricity tariff and above all a corruption-free administration," said Romesh Chaudhary, a resident of Sector 16.
Others like Raj Kumar Bhadana of Nangla Gujran feel that industrial growth has gone down and this needs to be corrected. "Faridabad was known for its industries. Over the years, this sector took a severe beating. Several big units have wound up their operations," he said.
Another important factor in the elections here would be the resident welfare associations (RWAs). The RWAs have been saying that they would support the party that promises abolition of toll plazas around the city.