BJP dumps seven sitting MLAs, including two ministers, in the first list
Announcing the first list of 78 candidates for the October 21 assembly elections, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Haryana on Monday denied tickets to seven sitting MLAs including two ministers, Vipul Goel and Rao Narbir Singh.
The party also held back nominations for 12 assembly seats, many of them politically significant, due to strategic reasons. Three leading sportspersons, Olympic medallist Yogeshwar Dutt (Baroda), Commonwealth medal winner Babita Phogat (Dadri) and former national hockey captain Sandeep Singh (Pehowa) were also given tickets.
BJP sources maintained that it was a temporary setback for public works department minister Rao Narbir who was elected from Badshahpur assembly constituency in 2014 but did not find his name in the first list on Monday. “There are still three Ahirwal (southern Haryana) constituencies – Rewari, Gurgaon and Kosli — up for grabs. Rao Narbir is likely to be given a ticket from Kosli or Gurgaon,’’ said a party source. State president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) Manish Yadav replaced Narbir from Badshahpur seat.
State BJP chief Subhash Barala on being asked whether Goel and Narbir would be accommodated in the second list of candidates said “nothing can be ruled out in polls”.
The situation for industries minister Vipul Goel, who is considered close to party in-charge for Haryana Dr Anil Jain, however, seems irretrievable. Goel, who won from Faridabad seat in 2014, was replaced by state BJP treasurer Narender Gupta this time. Goel’s recovery prospects vis-à-vis his cabinet colleague Narbir looks bleak as the former does not have much to choose from the remaining 12 seats. The only undeclared seat for which Goel could lobby is the adjoining Jat dominated Palwal seat.
The five other sitting MLAs who were refused party tickets are: Santosh Chauhan Sarwan (Mullana seat), Santosh Yadav (Ateli), Bimla Chaudhary (Pataudi), Kulwant Baazigar (Guhla) and Tejpal Tanwar (Sohna).
Even as Aarti Rao, the daughter of Union minister and Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh, didn’t find a place in the first list, sitting MLA from Uchana Kalan Prem Lata, the wife of Rajya Sabha MP Birender Singh, managed to bag the ticket from the seat she represents.
Strategic 12 seats
State BJP chief Subhash Barala said announcement of candidates for the remaining 12 assembly seats was held back due to strategic reasons. The seats for which announcement of tickets was held back are: Rewari, Kosli, Gurgaon, Palwal, Tosham, Meham, Panipat City, Gannaur, Kharkhauda, Fatehabad, Adampur and Naraingarh. Understandably, the BJP is looking for better options on seats where senior Congress leaders like Karan Dalal (Palwal), Kiran Choudhry (Tosham), Anand Singh Dangi ( Meham), Kuldeep Sharma (Gannaur), Kuldeep Bishnoi ( Adampur) were likely to be fielded.
While former BJP MP Sudha Yadav is considered a front-runner from Rewari, former minister Jagdish Yadav is vying with Rao Narbir for a ticket from Kosli. Gurgaon MLA Umesh Aggarwal and Panipat City MLA Rohita Rewri are likely to be dumped by the party this time.
CM and his colleagues
As expected, chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar (Karnal), and most of his cabinet colleagues made it to the first list. They are Ram Bilas Sharma (Mahendragarh), Capt Abhimanyu (Narnaund), OP Dhankar (Badli), Anil Vij (Ambala Cantt), Kavita Jain (Sonepat), Krishan Lal Panwar (Israna), Manish Grover (Rohtak), Krishan Bedi (Shahbad), Banwari Lal (Bawal) and Karan Dev Kamboj were declared as party candidates. Kamboj, who won from Indri assembly constituency in Karnal district in 2014, was moved to Radaur assembly constituency in Yamunanagar this time. State BJP president Subhash Barala would again contest from Tohana, a seat he won in 2014.
Party hoppers accommodated
The BJP has rewarded 14 deserters, mostly from the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), with party tickets in the first list of 78 seats. Eleven INLD deserters accommodated by the BJP are Rajvir Barara (Mullana), Lila Ram Gurjar (Kaithal), Ram Kumar Kashyap (Indri), Parminder Dhull (Julana), Ramchandra Kamboj ( Rania), Ranbir Gangwa (Nalwa), Satish Nandal (Garhi Sampla Kiloi), Zakir Hussain (Nuh), Naseem Ahmed (Ferozepur Jhirka), Nagender Bhadana (Faridabad NIT) and Jagdish Nayyar (Hodal).
Two former Congressman given party tickets are Vinod Bhyana (Hansi) and Bachan Singh Arya (Safidon). Sitting Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Kalanwali who switched sides to join the BJP a couple of days ago has been given a ticket from Kalanwali.
Surprise pick from Punhana
The BJP sprung a surprise by fielding a young London-educated woman, Nauksham Chaudhary, from the extremely backward Meo Muslim dominated Punhana assembly seat in Mewat region. She is the daughter of HCS officer Ranjit Kaur and niece of deceased IAS officer Dr Harbaksh Singh. Nauksham’s father RS Chaudhary, a retired judicial officer, comes from Paima Khera village in Punhana. Her candidature is all the more surprising as sitting MLA from Punhana, Rahish Khan, an Independent who recently joined the BJP was sure to get a ticket from Punhana. Khan, who was appointed as chairman of Wakf Board by the BJP government, is learnt to be shocked at his omission.