This parliamentary constituency, a stronghold of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), is set to witness an intense fourcornered contest. What has thrown the field wide open is the conviction and sentence of INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala, who are lodged in Tihar jail in the teachers’ recruitment scam.
“Things would have been different in the two Chautalas’ presence,” an INLD leader remarked, accepting that all four top candidates were drawing large gatherings.
Sirsa, a reserved (Scheduled Caste) constituency, is one of the largest parliamentary seats geographically in the state. The leading candidates are sitting MP Dr Ashok Tanwar (Congress), Charanjeet Singh Rori (INLD), Sushil Indora (Bharatiya Janata Party-Haryana Janhit Congress) and Poonam Chand Ratti (Aam Aadmi Party).
Tanwar is also the president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, while Rori is the MLA from Kalanwali assembly constituency. Indora was elected MP from Sirsa in 1998 and 1999 on the INLD ticket. Ratti, the dark horse in this race, retired as a supervisor from the Haryana fire department.
Rori is banking on the fact that Sirsa is a bastion of the Chautalas, having a Jat population of more than 20% (3.34 lakh votes), the highest of all communities in the constituency. A major section of Jats in Haryana are perceived as supporters of the Chautalas.
Top leaders of Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) — chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal — having family ties with Chautalas, are supporting the Sikh candidate. Ironically, the Badals are backing an INLD nominee instead of BJP-HJC’s Indora (the saffron party is the SAD’s alliance partner in Punjab).
Rori and Tanwar belong to the Chamar community, which has about 9% votes in the constituency. Ratti belongs to the Balmiki community, while Indora hails from Dhanak Samaj.
Predominantly a rural constituency, the 10-year Congress rule here has not been marked by any major development, with the belt lacking basic amenities.