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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Ellenabad bypoll on Oct 30, litmus test for BJP-JJP dispensation amid ongoing farmers’ stir

The seat fell vacant eight months ago after INLD MLA Abhay Chautala resigned to express solidarity with the farmers’ agitation against the three contentious farm laws.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 28, 2021 7:21:24 pm
farmers protest, delhi farmers protests, delhi farmers, punjab farmers protest, farmers protest sedition, sedition lawThousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at several Delhi border points since November last year, demanding the government to repeal three farm laws and provide them legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for their crops. (File)

The much-awaited bypoll in Haryana’s Ellenabad Assembly constituency will be held on October 30 and the result will be declared on November 2, the Election Commission of India announced Tuesday while releasing the schedule of bypolls to be held in three parliamentary constituencies and 30 Assembly constituencies across the country.

Amid the ongoing farmers’ agitation and opposition faced by BJP-JJP legislators across the state, the bypoll will be a litmus test for the ruling dispensation.

The Ellenabad seat fell vacant eight months ago after the INLD’s lone MLA in the 90-member Haryana Vidhan Sabha, Abhay Chautala, resigned to express solidarity with the farmers’ agitation against the three contentious farm laws brought in by the Centre. Since then, the party led by former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala has been campaigning in rural areas across the state against the BJP-JJP dispensation.

Reacting to the announcement of the bypoll date, Abhay said, “The bypoll shall only be contested on the issue of whether people stand with or against the three black central farm legislations. Ideally, the bypoll should have been held with the West Bengal polls, but now due to the three parliamentary constituencies, these bypolls in Assembly constituencies have to be held. When the Election Commission had asked the Haryana government if the conditions were alright to hold the bypoll, the government had declined citing Covid cases. However, the same government had said in the Punjab and Haryana High Court that the conditions were okay for conducting panchayat polls in the state.”

Ellenabad had been a reserved seat from 1977 to 2005 during which the Lok Dal’s Bhagiram won five times from the constituency. He defeated an independent candidate in 1977 and from 1982-87 Bhagiram defeated the Congress nominee twice. After losing the 1991 polls, he got re-elected in 1996 and 2006.

Since being declared a general constituency in 2009, Ellenabad has remained a Chautala clan stronghold. In 2009, Om Prakash Chautala won here but in 2010 a bypoll was held which Abhay Chautala contested and won. He has since won consecutively and is likely to contest again as the INLD nominee.

In 2014 and 2019, however, Abhay had a close contest with old associate Pawan Beniwal who contested on a BJP ticket. Beniwal recently quit the BJP citing his support to the farmers’ cause and has joined the Congress which is likely to field him this time.

In the 2019 Assembly polls, Ellenabad was the only seat that the INLD could secure. While Abhay got around 57,000 votes, Beniwal polled 45,000 votes and Congress candidate Bharat Singh secured over 35,000 and JJP’s OP Sihag barely got 6,569 votes.

In 2019, the BJP forged a post-poll alliance with the JJP. It is yet to be seen which of the two parties will nominate their candidate in Ellenabad.

“This time, BJP-JJP and Congress candidates shall not be able to even save their security deposits in Ellenabad. They will face the wrath of people. Ellenabad is majorly a rural dominated area and most people in the constituency are dependent on agriculture who are against BJP-JJP right from the very first day. The farmer organisations had urged MLAs from all political parties to resign and support their agitation. But, none from any party did that. INLD is the party that had been following the footsteps of Chaudhary Devi Lal. Following his principles, I was the only MLA who vacated my seat. Had the MLAs resigned on the request of farmer organisations, there would have been mid-term polls in Haryana and not this bypoll,” Abhay said.

After Om Prakash Chautala’s release from Tihar jail on completion of his sentence in the infamous JBT teacher recruitment scam, he has been touring rural areas in the state in a bid to help his party make a comeback.

In a recent show of strength, the INLD held a Samman Divas rally on September 25 marking the 108th birth anniversary of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal (Om Prakash Chautala’s father). In the rally held at Jind’s Anaz Mandi, the party brought several political stalwarts on the stage including former Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal, former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah and even former BJP union minister Birender Singh.

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