In Haryana, BJP bets big on turncoats (Election Special)
The BJP may have national ambitions to form the next union government, but the party seems to be finding it difficult to get suitable candidates for the Lok Sabha seats in Haryana. The BJP is largely banking on turncoat leaders and others to establish itself in the state.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is contesting eight out of Haryana's 10 Lok Sabha seats and its alliance partner Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) is contesting the remaining two. Voting takes place April 10.
The BJP has fielded turncoat leaders for at least four seats while it has a newcomer non-politician for another seat. Only on three seats, the BJP has been able to find leaders from within its own ranks.
The party has fielded former union minister Rao Inderjit Singh for the Gurgaon Lok Sabha seat, adjoining the national capital. Singh, a sitting Congress MP from Gurgaon who was at loggerheads with Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda for the last three years, finally exited from the Congress earlier this year and joined the BJP.
Singh is a prominent Ahir community leader in the Gurgaon belt and has good influence in the area which is otherwise well known for its real estate goldmine and the land scams that have taken place in recent years. Among others, he faces Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and strategist Yogendra Yadav for the Gurgaon seat.
The BJP has fielded at least two other leaders who quit the Congress recently and joined the BJP on the eve of the elections. They are Dharambir Singh for the Bhiwani-Mahendergarh seat and Ramesh Kaushik for the Sonipat seat.
Dharambir was chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) in the Hooda government till earlier this month. He quit the government and as Congress legislator and is now a BJP candidate.
Another turncoat fielded by the BJP is Raj Kumar Saini for the Kurukshetra seat. Saini was a minister in the Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) government headed by then chief minister Bansi Lal (1996-99).
For the Karnal Lok Sabha seat, the BJP has fielded a political greenhorn Ashwini Chopra 'Minna'. He is a leading vernacular newspaper owner based in Delhi.
From its own ranks, the BJP has fielded Krishan Pal Gurjar from Faridabad, farmers' leader Om Prakash Dhankar from Rohtak and old war-horse Rattan Lal Kataria for the Ambala reserved seat.
The Karnal seat was earlier left by the BJP for its alliance partner HJC but after the HJC fumbled on announcing a candidate there and opted to take the Sirsa Lok Sabha seat instead, the BJP immediately announced Minna for Karnal.
The HJC has fielded its president and sitting MP Kuldeep Bishnoi from Hisar. He used to be a Congress MP earlier before parting ways in 2007.
For the Sirsa-reserved seat, the HJC has fielded former MP Sushil Indora. He was earlier with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and later with the Congress. He is now part of the HJC.
The BJP has always banked on the INLD and HJC for an alliance in Haryana. The party has not fared well in the Haryana elections whenever it contested alone.
(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 23-03-2014)