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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

Jind by-election: Randeep Singh Surjewala Congress’ choice, BJP picks Krishan Middha

After a round of meetings, chaired by senior Congress leader KC Venugopal and attended by top party leaders from Haryana, Rahul Gandhi took a final call on the nominee. Congress leaders feel Surjewala is the party’s strongest candidate in the region, sources said.

india Updated: Jan 10, 2019 14:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Rohtak
Randeep Surjewala had reportedly refused to contest but was asked by Rahul Gandhi himself to fight the January 28 bypoll, sources said.
Randeep Surjewala had reportedly refused to contest but was asked by Rahul Gandhi himself to fight the January 28 bypoll, sources said.(Mohd Zakir/HT File Photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress on Wednesday declared their candidates for the Jind bypoll slated to be held on January 28.

While the BJP fielded Krishan Middha, the son of late INLD MLA Hari Chand Middha, the Congress picked Kaithal MLA and AICC in-charge of communication Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Krishan Middha, whose father’s demise last year necessitated the bypoll, had recently joined the saffron party.

The BJP, which has never won the Jind assembly seat, played it safe by choosing Punjabi leader Krishan, whose father was a renowned medical practitioner in the area and enjoyed the support of all communities.

In case of Surjewala, the Congress made a surprise move considering that he is already a sitting MLA. His entry in the poll arena is being seen as a clever move by the Congress high command to take the ruling BJP head on.

The entry of a Jat leader will also necessitate recalibration of poll strategy for the INLD and JJP who haven’t announced their candidates.

The Election Commission had on December 31 announced that the bypoll to the Jind Assembly seat would be held on January 28 and the results will be out on January 31.

The filing of nominations began on January 3 and end on January 10.

The Jind assembly seat was held by the INLD in the past. After its MLA Hari Chand Middha died last year, his son was the party’s obvious choice as he was vying to start his political inning.

However, Krishan sent shockwave across the INLD by aligning himself with the BJP.

Surjewala, who also comes from Jind district, has previously contested assembly elections from district’s Narwana assembly constituency and won on two occasions defeating former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala.

He, however, shifted his base to Kaithal after Narwana became a reserved constituency after delimitation in 2009.

BJP state president Subhash Barala also dismissed the reports of Krishan joining the saffron party on condition of getting the ticket. “He joined the BJP as he had full faith in the party’s policies and principles. By now, people of Haryana have come to know that unlike other parties, the BJP does not believe in politics of caste or religions,” he added. Krishan’s father had won the 2009 and 2014 elections for the INLD. Before him, the seat was held by the Congress twice.

When asked about BJP’s poor record on the Jind seat, Krishan maintained he was still confident of a victory. “The BJP is setting new milestones with every new election. This one will be no exception. We will not just win, but break all records in terms of margin,” he added.

Besides the BJP, the INLD and the Congress, two more parties are in the fray this time. Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala’s Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) and rebel BJP MP Rajkumar Saini’s Loktantra Suraksha Manch (LSM), both fighting their first election, have raised the stakes to aim for their maiden wins. While Saini’s party fielded Vinod Aasri as its candidate, the JJP, sources said, was deciding to field Dushyant’s younger brother Digvijay for the seat. As per sources, the INLD is finding it difficult to shortlist a candidate. The last date of filing the nominations is January 10.

The bypoll will prove to be a litmus test for various parties, including the ruling BJP, the Congress and the INLD.

The win from Jind is going to be crucial for the contesting parties, with Lok Sabha polls not far away and the state assembly polls also scheduled for the later part of 2019.While the BJP will be eyeing a win from Jind to consolidate its position ahead of the state assembly polls, the opposition Congress, which has been attacking the Khattar government over its alleged failure on all fronts, will also look to grab a victory.

Meanwhile, four-time former MLA from Jind, Mange Ram Gupta, on Wednesday said he was not in the race for the byelection and reports of him approaching the Congress for ticket were false.

“They are showing on TV that I had gone to Delhi to seek a ticket. Why will I go there when I don’t intend to fight elections?” he asked.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Jan 10, 2019 11:15 IST