To contest or not to contest — that’s the dilemma faced by Congress MP Jitender Malik, who is anticipating a fierce battle in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls. Despite considerable development in his parliamentary constituency, Malik had recently admitted that he would prefer contesting the assembly elections, apparently due to the comfort factor on an easier poll turf (The Vidhan Sabha polls are due in Haryana this year).
In this Jat heartland, a citadel of the Maliks, this unassuming Malik had defeated three-time sitting MP Kishan Singh Sangwan of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2009, even though he was then also keen on fighting the assembly polls.
Of late, he has been saying that his preference is Ganaur, an assembly seat currently represented by Haryana Vidhan Sabha speaker Kuldeep Sharma. The MP said he had conveyed his decision to the Congress high command and it was up to them to take the final decision. Moreover, he is not even among the ticket-seekers for the Lok Sabha polls.
A known loyalist of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Malik is the son of late Rajinder Singh and grandson of late Lahiri Singh (the latter was a minister in undivided Punjab). Before getting elected to Parliament, Malik was a two-time legislator from Kailana (now renamed Ganaur) assembly constituency.
‘Not so accessible’
His strengths notwithstanding, the electorate here complains that Malik has been hardly accessible and has failed to come up to their expectations, even though the Congress is in power at the Centre as well as in the state.
Government jobs top the voters’ wish list. The key issues he raised in the House pertained to the construction of the Sonepat-Gohana-Jind rail line, Metro for Sonepat, and increase in number of passenger trains from Sonepat to Delhi, besides others.
Sonepat has seen several ambitious development works — the international fruit and vegetable market at Ganaur; five railway overbridges (RoBs); science and technology university at Murthal, Sonepat; women’s university and women’s medical college at Khanpur Kalan; and national law university at Rajiv Gandhi Education City, Rai, to name a few.
Of the nine assembly seats under the parliamentary seat, five are with the Congress — Ganaur, Rai, Kharkhoda, Gohana and Baroda. Three have Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLAs — Jind, Safidon and Jullana — while Panipat assembly seat is with the BJP.
Pardeep Sangwan, son of three-time BJP MP Kishan Singh Sangwan, comes down heavily on Malik, saying that the MP has already fled from the poll battleground. “Maidan te bhaaj gaya hai,” he says, suggesting that Malik seldom meets the electorate, especially rural, as he has done nothing for them. “My father had got the Jind-Gohana-Sonepat rail line sanctioned, besides railway overbridges, in 2004. The Congress did nothing for these projects,” he said, adding that people were upset at Malik’s non-performance.
Part 18 of 34:
Ashok Tanwar, Sirsa