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Caste factor underlines BJP-HJC line up

punjab Updated: Mar 22, 2014 09:43 IST
Vishal Joshi

The seat-sharing arrangement between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) was undoubtedly a marriage of political convenience and the alliance has given caste factor prominence while allotting tickets.

Of the eight candidates fielded by the BJP, four are the political turncoats, who have considerable influence in their respective communities, while Karnal candidate Ashwini Chopra ‘Minna’, a media baron, has been brought from New Delhi.

HJC has also fielded Sushil Kumar Indora from Sirsa.

Two-time MP Indora quit the Congress on Thursday, minutes before he was announced the HJC candidate from Sirsa.

Similarly, Kuldeep Bishnoi has opted to contest from Hisar, a segment with sizeable voters from his community and Punjabis.

Of the ten parliamentary seats in Haryana, the BJP would contest on eight seats whereas two seats have been left for its ally the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC).

Only two of the BJP candidates, Rattan Lal Kataria, a prominent Dalit face of the party (Ambala) and former state president of the BJP Krishan Pal Gurjar (Faridabad), are the old horses of the party who had earlier won the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, respectively.

Om Prakash Dhankar, the party choice from Rohtak is a Jat and president of the BJP’s Kisan Morcha. A greenhorn in the electoral politics, Dhankar has been rewarded for his role as the national coordinator of the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s project of raising a statute of Sardar Patel in Gujarat.

Political observers say that the BJP had to accommodate the four party hoppers as the party did not have suitable in-house leaders to match the caste equations in the elections.

Minna, a political novice, is handpicked by the BJP to appease the Punjabi community having sizeable votes in Karnal segment.

Ex-union minister Rao Inderjit Singh had quit the Congress to contest from his home turf Gurgaon.

Singh is as a prominent Ahir leader and the BJP leadership feels that his candidature would help them in wooing Ahirs of the Bhiwani-Mahindergarh segment as well. Party has fielded a Jat leader Dharambir Singh, also a Congress rebel, from Bhiwani-Mahindergarh constituency. He is pitted against two-time Congress parliamentarian Shruti Chaudhary.

From Sonepat, the BJP has fielded Ramesh Kaushik keeping in mind the non-Jat voters.

He had won the 1996 assembly elections on the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) ticket of Bansi Lal and won the 2005 election on the Congress ticket. Kaushik had left the Congress and joined the BJP in 2013.

Both, the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) have fielded Jat candidates from Sonepat, a Jat dominating segment, and Kaushik, a Brahmin, may effectively polarise non-Jat voters.

Political analysts point out that in 1996, an independent candidate Arvind Sharma was elected from Sonepat. It occurred for the first time that a non-Jat candidate emerged victorious from the constituency.

The saffron party has reposed faith in affluent businessman Raj Kumar Saini from Kurukshetra to give representation to the Saini community, which has sizeable votes in Ambala, Kurukshetra and Karnal segments.

Observers say that BJP has fielded Saini to counter the INLD’s Balbir Saini, an influential Saini leader from Kurukshetra.

A resident of Naraingarh, Ambala, Raj Kumar Saini had won from his home constituency on the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) of Bansi Lal in 1996 but later switched loyalty and became minister in the then Om Prakash Chautala government.

He finally joined the BJP and rose to become its state vice-president.