With Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) senior leader Yogendra Yadav already in the fray, the contest for the Gurgaon parliamentary constituency looks set to be four-cornered. Incumbent MP Rao Inderjit Singh has left the Congress for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and is mostly likely to be fielded by the saffron party.
The Congress might choose between state power minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav and Nuh MLA Aftab Ahmed, while the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) could filed former MLA Mohmamed Ilyas Khan, or Zakir Hussain.
Capt Yadav, a six-time MLA from Rewari, is lobbying for his son Chiranjeev Rao for the ticket, but there are reservations within the Congress over pitting him against senior leaders like Rao Inderjit Singh and Yogendra Yadav. However, it could work for Chiranjeev Rao that he is married to a daughter of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, a key ally of the Congress in Bihar.
This constituency came into existence in its current form in the last polls after new delimitation. It was created by merging five assembly segments of the erstwhile Mahendergarh constituency with four assembly segments of the erstwhile Faridabad constituency. Community calculations matter a lot here. And given that the votes of Ahirs and Meo Muslims account for almost half the electorate here, the parties would choose from either community.
Yogendra Yadav is an Ahir from a village in Rewari district, and his party has appeal among voters in Gurgaon district, particularly after recent success in neighbouring Delhi.
Rao Inderjit is a three-time MP owing to his clout in the Ahir belt, but he faces tough weather in Muslim-dominated pockets where the BJP’s Hindu rightwing credentials could become a negative.
As for Nuh MLA Aftab Ahmed, this Muslim face of the Congress here could be a good bet in view of split in Ahir votes between Yogendra Yadav and Rao Inderjit.
The INLD could face either of its two Muslim leaders — Mohmmed Ilyas or new entrant Zakir, who lost the 2009 LS poll on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket. Observers say that Hussain could combine Meo Muslims with INLD’s traditional Jat following.
There are also mur murs about the Congress playing the glamour card with actress Shar mila Tagore, who was married to the late cricketer Mansoor Ali Khan ‘ Tiger’ Pataudi, an heir of the erstwhile princely state of Pataudi. ‘Tiger’ had unsuccessfully contested the Gurgaon seat in the 1970s. Sharmila’s visit in 2011 with her superstar son Saif Ali Khan to anoint him as the tenth Nawab of Pataudi created some buzz in the region.
The Congress has to deal with anti-incumbency as it is in power in the state too. Land acquisition disputes and allegations of lopsided development, apart from the vacuum created by Rao Inderjit’s departure, would be key challenges.