Chhattees biradari (36 castes) is the buzzword in the constituency, where the two top political clans of Haryana are locked in a pitched battle. Indian National Lok Dal’s (INLD’s) Dushyant Chautala, a Jat, is taking on sitting MP Kuldeep Bishnoi, chief of the Haryana Janhit Congress (Bhajan Lal).
Dushyant is the great-grandson of former deputy prime minister late Devi Lal and grandson of former Haryana chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, while Bishnoi is the son of another ex-CM, late Bhajan Lal.
Though both candidates say that they are not indulging in caste-based politics, they are also claiming to have the support of all 36 castes.
Dushyant is mainly banking on around 5 lakh Jat voters in the constituency. While addressing villagers in the Jat heartland, Chautala talks of Jat machismo. “It is not just a political battleground. I am ready to fight in any ground with my well-built body,” he says. The declaration is welcomed with huge applause. He also doesn’t forget to tell people that Bishnoi’s brother Chand Mohammad has a Muslim name.
TRADITIONAL VOTE BANK
Bishnoi says, “We will win because of the work that we have done,” he says. Unlike the 2011 byelection, when he beat INLD’s Ajay Chautala by a narrow margin of around 6,000 votes, he claims it’s going to be a “one-sided” contest this time.
Bishnoi is relying on his father’s traditional vote bank. The HJC is confident that the ex-CM’s well-established base will not let them down this time too. “The INLD has not won any parliamentary seat in Haryana since 1999,” says Devi Lal, HJC spokesperson.
Political pundits opine that it will be difficult to stop the march of the ‘tractor’ (the HJC symbol) in Hisar. However, Manoj Chhabra, a Hisar-based schoolteacher, doesn’t agree. “With the Jat vote likely to go one way, the road doesn’t seem smooth for Bishnoi,” he says. According to him, Bishnoi’s prospects depend on non-Jat votes.
Besides the HJC and INLD, the other top party in the fray is the ruling Congress. However, the impact of the embarrassing defeat in the 2011 Hisar byelection can still be felt (Congress nominee Jai Prakash couldn’t even save his deposit). This time, the party has fielded former finance minister Sampat Singh. Putting up a brave face, Bhoop Singh, a longtime associate of Sampat, says, “We are very much in the fight.”
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seems to be on weak ground as corruption is not an issue here, with the next generation of convicts in corruption cases being among the frontrunners.
“These candidates can claim anything, but one thing is clear that this time, the election in Hisar would be a Jat versus nonJat contest,” says Rajiv Sardana, a local RTI activist, who is also in the business of election publicity material.