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Sonepat Election Results 2019: Former CM Hooda, his protege and a Chautala test poll waters

On paper, the two Jat candidates— Congress’ Bhupinder Singh Hooda and JJP’s Digvijay Chautala— are expected to fight for a share of over 6.70 lakh Jat votes while BJP’s Ramesh Kaushik, a Brahmin, can hope to corner a major share of about 1.50 lakh Brahmin votes.

constituency watch Updated: May 23, 2019 10:34 IST
Hitender Rao
Hitender Rao
Hindustan Times, Sonepat
lok sabha elections 2019,sonepat LS seat,sonepat LS candidates

A former chief minister, a turncoat and a rebel scion makes for an exciting triangular contest for the Sonepat Parliamentary constituency.

It may look like a change of political turf for two-time chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a four time MP from the adjacent Rohtak constituency in elections 2019. But he looks at home in a constituency encompassing both Deswali and Bangar regions of the state. Once Hooda’s underling, sitting MP Ramesh Kaushik, had switched sides to quit Congress and contest as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate in 2014. He was reluctant to contest this time but showed a renewed interest after Balakot air strikes.

See: LIVE coverage Lok Sabha Elections 2019

The third contestant, Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) leader, Digvijay Chautala’s claim to fame has been his very respectable debut loss in Jind byelection where he unexpectedly finished runners up behind the winning BJP candidate. And he has decided to enter an uncharted territory, hoping to do a la Jind.

The electoral contest

On paper, the two Jat candidates— Hooda and Chautala— fight for a share of over 6.70 lakh Jat votes while Kaushik, a Brahmin, can hope to corner a major share of about 1.50 lakh Brahmin votes. However, the actual contest may turn out to be totally different. Five out of the nine assembly segments in this constituency are held by Hooda loyalists, an important factor in determining the pull of the candidate. The JJP candidate, Digvijay Chautala, is heavily banking on the three assembly segments falling in Jind district. Chautala did well, finishing runners up in the recent Jind byelection. The BJP candidate relies heavily on the urban electorate in Sonepat and Jind assembly segments to prop up his prospects.

Issues at hand

Sitting BJP MP, Ramesh Kaushik frequently talked about the air strikes, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s success in getting Wing Commander Abhinandan back from Pakistan and the need to have a strong Centre, during poll canvassing.

“While Modi is immersed in desh bhakti, the Congress is striking a discordant note. For the sake of our country, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi is the most suitable for the job,” he tells a motley crew at Mukinpur village in Rai assembly segment.

Sonepat Lok Sabha seat BJP candidate Ramesh Kaushik seen during an election campaign, at a village in Rai, Haryana, on Saturday, May 4, 2019. ( Keshav Singh / HT Photo )

Kaushik, who was a part of the Congress government from 2005 to 2009 under Hooda and served as chief parliamentary secretary, was quick to credit the BJP government for its efforts to increase the income of farmers, introducing Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme and the Ujjawala scheme.

Then he launches a subtle attack on his former boss and brands him an outsider. “People of Sonepat need someone from Sonepat, not from Rohtak. Hooda is an outsider and people of Sonepat never vote for outsiders, ” the BJP candidate said at Chauhan Joshi village.

JJP’s Digvijay, who aggressively campaigned in Jind district, too attacks the former chief minister, though on a different a ground. “Remember if Hooda wins here, the chaudhar (authority) will go to Rohtak and if I triumph, then it will come to Jind. Dushyant has already announced that Jind will be made the capital of Haryana the day we come to power. You will be the master of your fate.Hooda aapke kya kaam aayega, wohtoh Rohtak walon ka hai. Dushyant aapke kaam aayega,” Digvijay told a gathering of Sikhs at Malikpur village in Safidon assembly segment.

“When Hooda sahib has to ultimately contest the assembly election from Kiloim why is he taking the Sonepat Lok Sabha route. He just wants to show his strength. Actually, he is the one responsible for the backwardness of Sonepat and Jind districts,” he told the gathering at Nimanabad.

Hooda, who too is concentrating on Jind district lately, said that BJP regimes, both at the Centre and in Haryana, had left the peasantry in agony. “Taking credit for the valour of the defence forces is all they can speak about now,” he said. The former chief minister says that the JJP, like the INLD, will fold up after May 23 when the poll results will be out.

Also Read | Election Results 2019 Live Updates

Caste aspect

The JJP nominee is dismissive about the possibility of caste equations deciding the outcome of polls. “I don’t think that caste polarisation is a factor here. See, I got 18,000 votes in Jind town during the Jind bypoll which proves that I got urban votes. Had there been caste polarisation, I would have won the bypoll merely on the strength of over 50,000 Jat votes,” says Digvijay Chautala.

BJP’s Ramesh Kaushik says that those who do not have any accomplishments try to play caste politics. “People can see through their designs. Haryana was burnt over Jat reservation and the issue was politicised. The BJP government at the Centre gave 10% reservation on economic basis to every caste without anyone batting an eyelid. We are not using it for electoral gains,” Kaushik says. Hooda feels that since he had worked for the progress of each section of the society, the “polarisation plank” of the BJP would not work. “The BJP has nothing to list as positives. So let them play the caste games,” he says.

Also Read | Lok Sabha 2019 constituency: Sonipat in Haryana is Hooda citadel

First Published: May 09, 2019 14:53 IST