With split in INLD, Jat votes hold the key in Bhiwani-Mahendragarh Lok Sabha seat
Lok Sabha Elections 2019: BJP’’s Bhiwani-Mahendragarh candidate Dharambir Singh faces a stiff competition from former Congress MP Shruti Choudhry, who is the granddaughter of former state CM Bansi Lal and daughter of Tosham MLA Kiran ChoudhryUpdated: May 01, 2019 13:03 IST
Ramkaran Singh, 53, a small-scale farmer from Bamla village in Bhiwani bought a new motorcycle recently. His son, Amit, cleared the state government’s group D exam earlier this year.
“No one in our family has ever got a government job. It is because this government is honest and gives jobs on merit that my son cleared the exam and will work as a beldar,” said Singh. In the coming Lok Sabha polls, Singh’s vote is reserved for the BJP. He says he is impressed by PM Narendra Modi and CM Manohar Lal Khattar. But he has no opinion on MP Dharambir Singh, the BJP candidate. “I am not aware if he has done anything,” he says.
Dharambir himself is not seeking votes on the merit of his work, but rather reminding people of PM Modi and state BJP government’s achievements. His speeches to voters in Bhiwani and Mahendragarh include talks of nationalism, free and fair recruitment in government jobs, a befitting reply to Pakistan and militants in Kashmir, and so on.
Dharambir faces a stiff competition from former Congress MP Shruti Choudhry, who is the granddaughter of former state CM Bansi Lal and daughter of Tosham MLA Kiran Choudhry. In 2014, Shruti had finished third, losing out to Dharambir by a margin of 1.3 lakh votes and Rao Bahadur Singh of INLD by 7,000 votes. This time, she and her mother are going the extra mile to ensure her victory.
“We are counting on the work we accomplished in our time. We got this constituency in the ambit of National Capital Region (NCR), provided water to all villages and started many health and education projects. But the BJP, after coming to power, put a full stop to all our development,” says Shruti.
Bhiwani district used to be the stronghold of INLD. However, after the party split following a bitter clash between Chautalas, the Jat votes it had in its kitty may be lost to the Congress. This has put Shruti back in the race.
Like most constituencies in Haryana, the caste factor dominates Bhiwani-Mahendragarh constituency as well. With a population of over 3 lakh, Jats form the largest majority while Yadavs come second followed by Brahmins, Gurjars, Mahajans and Punjabis.
“It appears to be a straight fight between Dharambir and Shruti. Initially, it seemed JJP’s Swati Yadav could complicate things, but her weak campaign is not impressive enough to make a significant difference. Bhiwani voters favoured Ajay Chautala’s family in Bhiwani. If INLD’s offshoot JJP had nominated any of the Chautala family members from here, it still had a chance of getting the Jat votes. But now, Congress will get Jat votes, and BJP will get non-jats votes,” says Somesh Sharma, a political analyst in Bhiwani.
The constituency, comprising districts of Bhiwani, Mahendragarh and Charkhi Dadri has a distinct demographic preference as well. While voters in Mahendragarh are happy with PM Modi and BJP’s work, those in Bhiwani and Charkhi Dadri may seek changes as the farming community remains apprehensive of schemes like Fasal Bima Yojna and demands loan waivers.