It is early morning and people are busy harvesting the ripe mustard. Haryana Janhit Congress chief Kuldeep Bishnoi, who is sitting in his car, has been given a copy of the schedule printed on cheap mustard papers bearing the name of the villages where he will address various election meetings.
In half an hour, the motor cavalcade enters Hansi, the bastion of the Bhajan Lal family. “Our family has not lost even a single election in the area in the past five decades,” Kuldeep says with pride.
Children stand outside the villages carrying mustard flags, the colour associated with the party. The cavalcade enters Ghiraye village and Bishnoi addresses the gathering and asks them to vote for development. Soon BJP workers with their saffron caps join the campaign.
In village after village, people standing on the roadside wave at Bishnoi; he waves back. In five hours the cavalcade covers around 10 villages. As the small villages don’t attract large gatherings, Bishnoi says, “Please don’t click a picture here. All these are dhanis (small settlements), so you will not find large gatherings.
I am here because nobody ever visits them,” he says, adding, “We will arrange a good picture for you.” He orders the party general secretary sitting on the back to arrange a good picture. “Or you can click the pictures at Sainipura, a relatively larger village,” he says.
It is just one third of the 16 hour-long journey in the day. Bishnoi says that during elections sometimes he sleeps only for two hours. “I never get tired, my people know. If even after 10 days I get a six-hour sleep, I will be fine,” he says.
In the 2011 by-elections, his winning margin was just 6,900 votes. Though Bishnoi claims that after Om Prakash Chautala and son Ajay’s conviction in a corruption case, it will be a onesided game, the worry is writ large on his face as he instructs his men over phone to leave no stone unturned.
Last year, one of his namesakes with bulldozer as election symbol -- that resembled his symbol tractor – polled around 28,000 votes. So with more than a dozen Kuldeeps in the fray this time, does it worry the real Kuldeep? “My opponents are worried, that is why they are resorting to such tactics,” he says.
When asked whether Dushyant Chautala would get a good response in Jat-dominated villages after a wave of sympathy for the Chautalas, Bishnoi says, “They have not gone to jail for freedom struggle. They were corrupt and were convicted. How can one be sympathetic to the corrupt?”
From Bara Suleman, his Audi car takes the left turn to the road towards Sainipura village. A large number of people on both sides of the road welcome him with garlands and request him to ride a tractor, also the election symbol of the HJC, to the village.
Soon, the tractor decorated with mustard flags with Bishnoi behind the wheel starts heading towards the village. After around 20 minutes, the tractor nears the village school where a large number of people have gathered.
While committing more jobs for Hisar and bringing new projects to the area, Bishnoi asks people to make him the chief minister of the state.
Seeking votes for chief minister in the Lok Sabha elections? For Bishnoi, the game has just begun.