The Bharatiya Janata Party-Haryana Janhit Congress (BJP-HJC) chief ministerial candidate, Kuldeep Bishnoi, is banking on the alleged neglect of non-Jat areas and corruption as the key issues for the assembly elections.
As his Haryana Vijay Abhiyan reached Assandh on Tuesday night, Hindustan Times caught up with the 45-year-old Hisar parliamentarian on Wednesday morning in his five-star customised bus named rath (chariot).
Bishnoi had started traversing the state on October 6 from Mandi Adampur and is scheduled to cover 2,800 villages of all 90 assembly constituencies.
He is accompanied by his wife, Mandi Adampur MLA Renuka Bishnoi, state BJP president Ram Bilas Sharma and BJP-HJC coordination committee chairperson Dharam Pal Malik. Bishnoi is spending nights in houses of all communities to garner support.
Though the HJC president calls himself a leader of all 36 biradaris or communities, he admits in carefully chosen words that non-Jat population in the state needed extra political attention. But he is not vocal on Jat and non-Jat vote bank.
"Aap logoon ne chaudharyon ko vote diya aur manne 35,000 se haraa diya. Woh babu-beta to jail ke bheetar sain aur main phir agle election ke liye tayaar hoon.
(In the 2011 Lok Sabha byelection for Hisar, you had voted for Om Prakash Chautala and defeated me by 35,000. Now, Chautala and his son are in jail and I am in front of you and gearing up for the next elections)," Bishnoi told a gathering at Alewa village of the Jat-dominated Uchana Kalan assemnly segment of Jind district. Uchana is part of Hisar Lok Sabha segment, represented by Bishnoi.
"Time has come to judge a politician solely by his actions. I urge you to elect a leader with a clean image," he said in his appeal from his 'rath'. About his plan of action, Bishnoi said: "My core team will talk to people in villages, note down their problems and redress them when the BJP-HJC alliance comes to power in 2014."
Earlier, on the Assandh-Jind road, party workers welcomed the leaders with applause. A group of youth urged Bishnoi to teach "a lesson" to Assandh legislator Zile Ram Sharma.
In the 2009 assembly elections, Sharma had won on the HJC ticket but, later, defected to the Congress, helping Bhupinder Singh Hooda to form government for the second consecutive time. Sharma, along with Panipat legislator Om Prakash Jain, is in jail on a charge of abetting the suicide of former Karnal sarpanch.
"We had voted for the HJC but Sharma disrespected our mandate and joined ranks with the Congress. The deserter should be taken to task," a villager said.
"Wo to jail mein sai. Mujhe chief minister banne do, Bhupinder Singh Hooda aur Robert Vadra to Chautala ke saath jail mein rotian khilwayunga. In sab ne corruption ki hai aur yeh sab jaldi hi jail ke bheetar honge (Zile Ram Sharma is in jail. When I become the chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Robert Vadra, like Chautala, will be in jail. They all are corrupt and will be in jail soon)," Bishnoi said.
BJP's Ram Bilas Sharma said that their government would investigate into the award of change of land use (CLU) licences during the Hooda rule.
At a brief halt en route, Bishnoi asked supporters about the problems in their areas. A youth said hardly anyone from Assandh received a government job in nine years of the Hooda rule but people from Rohtak and Sonepat had plenty of job offers. "Mujhe CM banwa do, ek rule banwa doonga ke sarkari naukrion mein har district ka barabaar quota ho (Make me the chief minister and I will make a rule that every district should have equal representation in government jobs)," he added.
He reiterates biased development rhetoric
Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi blames the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government for ignoring rural areas and, instead, concentrating on select pockets of urban Haryana.
"It will be wrong to say that Hooda made no effort in developing Haryana but his approach has been biased. During my ongoing yatra, I have seen that villages at the Garhi Sampla Kiloi assembly segment in Rohtak represented by Hooda have no roads. During my night stays, people rue of lopsided development - even in Rohtak and Sonepat," Bishnoi claimed.
On the Jat and non-Jat division in the state, he said it would be wrong to say that caste had no role in politics. "In nine years of the Hooda rule, not only the non-Jat population was pushed to the corner in respect to the selecting candidates for government jobs but also the Jat community outside Rohtak and Sonepat was ignored," he said. Bishnoi said caste was a factor was for the educated youth who want a government that delivered.
Taking a dig at the government, he said: "The appointment of journalists Yogender Gupta and Hemant Atri, considered close to Hooda, as state information commissioners is another example of favourtism."
Bishnoi is ready to give one seat to a journalist with a clean image and rubbished the charge that fielding a journalist would amount to lure the fraternity.
"I am ready to field professionals such as lawyers and doctors who have worked with people and understand their issues," he added.