Ending suspense over fielding its candidates in two high-profile constituencies in Haryana, the Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded former MP Arvind Sharma from Rohtak Lok Sabha seat and political greenhorn, IAS Brijendra Singh, son of Union Minister Birender Singh from Hisar parliamentary seat.
The BJP, which had last week announced its candidates on eight seats, on Sunday, announced the names of candidates in remaining two seats in Haryana, which goes to polling on May 12.
Focusing on the strategy of consolidating the non-Jat votes, which had helped the saffron party to register its maiden victory in 2014 Haryana assembly polls and Jind bypoll, the BJP has fielded a prominent Brahmin leader Arvind Sharma from Jat-dominated Rohtak seat.
Three-time MP Arvind Sharma had recently joined the BJP and was previously seen as a contender for Sonepat and Karnal parliamentary seats. He had earlier won the Jat dominated Sonepat Lok Sabha seat in 1996 as an independent candidate and later, won Karnal Lok Sabha seat in 2004 and 2009 on Congress’ ticket.
He had however lost to BJP’s Ashwini Kumar Chopra in 2014 general elections on Karnal seat.
Sharma had then quit the Congress ahead of 2014 Haryana assembly polls to join Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which had named him as its Chief Ministerial candidate. The BSP had fielded him from two seats, but he had failed to score a win on both the seats in assembly elections.
Sharma will now take on three-time MP Deepender Singh Hooda, the lone Congress candidate in Haryana who had withstood the Narendra Modi wave in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Deepender, son of former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been re-nominated by his party from Rohtak seat, known as Congress’ bastion. Deepender faces a tough task ahead to win the seat for the fourth time and is toiling day and night to reach out to the voters of his constituency.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Deepender had won for the third consecutive time from Rohtak by a margin of more than 1.7 lakh votes against BJP’s Jat candidate Om Prakash Dhankar, now a Cabinet Minister in the Manohar Lal Khattar Government in Haryana.
Rohtak has around 16 lakh voters, with over 6 lakh Jat voters while other voters comprised of non-Jat communities like Brahmins, Baniyas, OBCs, Dalits and Punjabis.
Notably, Rohtak was the epicenter of violent Jat reservation stir 2016, which had resulted in bitterly divided Haryana on caste lines and is now likely to play a key role in shaping the public opinion in deciding the fate of candidates in ensuing Lok Sabha polls.
Political observers say that by fielding a Brahmin candidate, the BJP has made its strategy clear to consolidate the non-Jat votes to wrest the Rohtak seat. BJP’s support base largely comprises urban non-Jat voters and traders in Rohtak.
The split in Jat votes had benefited the saffron party in the Jind bypoll. The BJP is now banking on the same equation in Rohtak. Another factor that is seen as favorable for BJP would be split in Jat vote bank in the state with the formation of Jananyak Janta Party, a splinter group of INLD, which is a Jat-centric party. JJP and INLD are also likely to field Jat candidates in Rohak, political analysts say.
While the Congress had in 2014 won the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat, the BJP had managed to wrest Rohtak assembly seat by fielding a Punjabi candidate later that year and also registered victory in civic body polls there last year, making the electoral fight on the parliamentary seat this time a prestige issue for both the national parties.
BJP reposes faith in Jat leader Birender Singh’s son
The BJP has sprung a surprise by fielding Brijender Singh, a Haryana cadre IAS officer from Hisar parliamentary constituency.
Brijender’s father Union Minister and Rajya Sabha MP Birender Singh had been lobbying for his son’s candidature from Hisar since long.
46-year old Brijender will now make his political debut in the Lok Sabha polls from Hisar constituency, which his father had won in 1984 by defeating former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala.
A Haryana cadre IAS officer of 1998 batch, Brijendra is posted as the Managing Director (MD) of the Haryana State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation.
He had last year addressed a non-political state-level farmers’ meet at Jind. His mother, Prem Lata is a sitting MLA from Uchana Kalan, which falls in Hisar Lok Sabha constituency.
His father, Birender Singh is the grandson of Sir Chhotu Ram, one of the tallest Jat and farmer leaders of pre-Partition era. Birender, a prominent Jat leader himself, had joined the BJP in 2014 after ending his four-decade old association with the Congress following differences with then Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Hisar Lok Sabha constituency is known as the epicenter of strong caste polarisation in the politics of Haryana. The parliamentary constituency has around 15.7 lakh voters.
The constituency has more than 5 lakh Jat voters, more than 80,000 Brahmins, over 36,000 Bishnois, 65,000 Punjabis while Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes constitute a sizeable number of more than 5 lakh voters, say political experts.
In 2014 general elections, the caste based political alignments had remained almost unaffected in the Hisar parliamentary constituency where Dushyant Chautala, representing the fourth generation of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal had defeated BJP-HJC nominee Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal.
This time, Dushyant or his mother Naina Chautala, sitting MLA in Haryana Assembly is likely to contest from Hisar seat on Jannayak Janta Party’s (JJP) ticket.
Congress is yet to announce its candidate and names of MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi and his son Bhavya Bishnoi are doing the rounds from the seat.
Birender Singh offers to resignThe Union Steel Minister Birender Singh on Sunday offered to resign from the cabinet and from Rajya Sabha.
The announcement, made by the Union Cabinet Minister during a press conference at his residence in
New Delhi, followed selection of his son Brijendra Singh’s name as the BJP candidate from Hisar Lok Sabha seat in Haryana.
Birender cited his desire to avoid dynastic politics.
“I thought it proper that if my son gets nomination, I should resign from the Rajya Sabha and also from the Ministry. So I have written to BJP president Amit Shah. I leave it to the party... I am ready to resign,” he said.