The bypoll in Jind assembly constituency of Haryana is heading for a high-pitched three-cornered electoral battle with major political parties strategically fielding their most “popular faces” to ensure a victory.
The much awaited bypoll has the ruling BJP, Congress, Jannayak Janta Party caught in an interesting contest after the Congress fielded sitting MLA Randeep Singh Surjewala and JJP fielded debutant Digvijay Chautala, great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal, a day after BJP played a masterstroke by fielding Krishan Middha, son of late INLD MLA Hari Chand Middha from Jind.
The bye-election to Jind assembly seat was necessitated following the demise of Hari Chand Middha in August. INLD’s Hari Chand Middha had represented the Jind seat for two consecutive terms in 2009 and 2014.
The INLD, which is facing a major challenge to retain its seat, has fielded Umed Singh Redu, vice chairman, zila parishad, Jind. Interestingly, Umed Singh had earlier filed his nomination as an independent to contest Jind bypoll.
The candidates of BJP, Congress, JJP and INLD filed their nomination papers on Thursday.
The voting is scheduled to be held on January 28 in Jind assembly segment which has more than 1.7 lakh voters including over 1.07 lakh urban voters and nearly 62,500 living in villages.
The results of bypoll will be announced on January 31.
Winning the Jind bypoll has turned into a prestige issue for all major political parties with their strong contenders in the fray, ahead of upcoming Lok Sabha elections and assembly polls schedule later this year in Haryana.
After the ruling BJP fielded a Punjabi candidate Krishan Middha hoping that support of Punjab community and sympathy factor will work in party’s favour, Congress made a surprising move by picking Randeep Surjewala, considered as party’s safest and strongest choice for bypolls.
Former Haryana Minister Surjewala, who is sitting MLA from Kaithal had previously contested assembly elections from Jind district’s Narwana assembly constituency. Surjewala, a popular Jat leader, had earlier won on two occasions defeating former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala from Narwana but had later shifted his base to Kaithal following Narwana becoming a reserved constituency.
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s closest aide Randeep Surjewala is also in-charge, communications of the party.
A favorable outcome for Surjewala would further cement his place as a stalwart politician in Haryana and strengthen his position as probable Chief Ministerial candidate for the assembly polls in the state.
Apart from Surjewala, another strong contender in the electoral battle will be Digvijay Chautala, great grandson of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal and grandson of former CM OP Chautala.
Digvijay will contest as an independent candidate, supported by the Jannayak Janta Party, floated by his father Ajay Chautala and elder brother Hissar MP Dushyant Chautala.
With fledging outfit JJP yet to be registered by the Election Commission, Digvijay, who is national chief of Indian National Students Organisation (INSO), would be making his political debut as an independent.
The maiden election would be crucial for Digvijay and his party JJP for their political future.
Digvijay, a Jat himself belonging to an influential Chautala family is seen as a strong contender against the political opponents fielded by the BJP, Congress and INLD, the main opposition party in the state.
For the ruling BJP in Haryana, its victory in the Jind bypoll would further boost the morale of its workers ahead of general elections 2019 while a defeat would be a major blow to the party.
On the other hand, the Congress, with Surjewala’s candidature, hopes to win the bypoll to send across a message that it is on a path of revival in the state.
In 2014 assembly polls, INLD’s Hari Chand Middha had won with 31,631 votes and defeated BJP candidate Surinder Barwala with a small margin 2,257 votes.
In the past, Mange Ram Gupta of the Congress has won the seat four times — in 1977, 1991, 2000 and 2005, Daya Kishan of the Congress won twice in 1967 and 1968, Dal Singh of the Congress won in 1972, Brij Mohan won on Lok Dal ticket in 1982 and Haryana Vikas Party symbol in 1996, Parma Nand of the Lok Dal won in 1987.
According to the political observers, Middha had managed two consecutive victories due to voting by Jats, core supporters of the INLD and the Punjabi community in the constituency.
“Caste combinations will play a vital role in centrally located Jind in Jatland-Haryana. The result is going to set the tone for upcoming Lok Sabha elections and the assembly elections later this year in Haryana,” , say political observers.
They say, “Congress is desperately looking for a victory in Jind bypolls to send out a message that it is on comeback trail ahead of Lok Sabha polls while the BJP would be eyeing a win from Jind to consolidate its position in the state.
At present, the BJP has 47 seats in the 90-member Haryana assembly. The Congress has 17 seats while main opposition party INLD has 19 seats.