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Friday, Nov 22, 2019

Hot seat Rania: Brothers of OP Chautala and Gopal Kanda locked in a tough battle

This constituency came into being in 2009 after delimitation. Earlier, Rania was part of Ellenabad assembly segment, a traditional stronghold of the INLD.

india Updated: Oct 19, 2019 01:04 IST
Vishal Joshi
Vishal Joshi
Hindustan Times, Rania
Independent candidate Ranjit Chautala (above) and Haryana Lokhit Party nominee Gobind Kanda.
Independent candidate Ranjit Chautala (above) and Haryana Lokhit Party nominee Gobind Kanda.(HT PHOTO )
         

This assembly constituency in the Bagri belt of Haryana is witnessing a close contest between Ranjit Singh Chautala, an estranged brother of INLD supremo Om Prakash Chautala, and Gobind Kumar Goyal, aka Gobind Kanda, brother of controversial former minister Gopal Kanda.

Congress rebel and former minister Ranjit Chautala, 73, is contesting as an independent as his party denied him ticket.

Gobind Kanda, 51, an affluent businessman from Sirsa, is contesting for the second consecutive time as a candidate of Haryana Lokhit Party, an outfit floated by Gopal Kanda.

In 2014 assembly polls, Gobind had narrowly lost elections to Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) candidate Ram Chand Kamboj by 4,315 votes.

This constituency came into being in 2009 after delimitation. Earlier, Rania was part of Ellenabad assembly segment, a traditional stronghold of the INLD.

In the last two state elections, the INLD won the seat.

Ram Chand Kamboj, INLD MLA from Rania, switched loyalty to the BJP in August this year. This time Kamboj, 35, is contesting as a candidate of the saffron party. But he is facing an uphill task to get support from the BJP cadre in Rania.

The INLD has this time fielded Ashok Verma, a backward caste leader, while the Congress candidate is Vineet Kamboj, national secretary of the Indian Youth Congress.

A political novice Vineet, 28, is considered close to the former state president of the Congress Ashok Tanwar.

POLL PLANKS

In election meetings, Ranjit Chautala is projecting himself as a wronged individual for being denied ticket by the Congress. He also invokes the legacy of his father late Devi Lal, former deputy prime minister.

“Despite being in the Congress for the most part of my political life, the party leadership chose to ignore me. I am an educated person and have an experience of governance. I will work earnestly for you all,” he tells a gathering at Chamal village.

Ranjit says he remained politically active in Rania as a Congressman for the past more than a decade and his supporters are hurt over his being sidelined by the party.

Gobind Kanda is banking on rural voters to get elected from this seat. “I have been working closely with socially and economically marginalised sections. I have earned enough from my legitimate business and politics is just a means to give voice to the underprivileged,” he says at an election meeting at Mehmadpuria village.

BJP’s Ram Chand Kamboj is seeking votes on the development plank and governance. He is hoping to retain the support of Jats and the Kamboj community that helped him in winning the seat last time as INLD nominee.

Congress candidate Vineet Kamboj tells a small gathering at Bangi Dhani that he has blessings of the top party leadership. “The Congress leadership has an elaborate plan to ensure development in this underdeveloped segment,” he says in a meeting with a section of villagers.

INLD’s Verma claims the party has a strong base in the constituency. “INLD candidates won both elections in Rania so far. The party leadership has acceptance among various castes and we are confident of our victory,” says Verma, who is contesting for the first time.

Candidates are chalking out their electoral strategies on the basis of caste composition in the segment. Rania is a Jat-dominated constituency with Prajapat and Kamboj communities having a sizeable presence.

While Ranjit Chautala is a Jat face, Gobind Kanda is from Bania community. BJP and Congress candidates belong to Kamboj community. INLD’s Verma is from Prajapat community. Both Kamboj and Prajapat communities come under backward classes.

Notably, the winning margin in the constituency remained very thin in the last two elections.

In 2014, the INLD nominee had won the seat by only 4,315 votes whereas the party candidate emerged victorious by just 3,651 votes in 2009.

Political observers say the trend may repeat this time also as candidates are seeking to consolidate voters of their respective communities.