It will be a keen contest between Anil Vij of the BJP and Nirmal Singh of the Congress in Ambala Cantt constituency. Vij, the incumbent MLA, claims the Congress discriminated against theconstituency since he was from the BJP. Singh, on the other hand, harps on the failures of Vij as well as the Congress government.
Vij and Singh faced each other in the 2009 election, wherein Vij emerged victorious by a margin of 6,338 votes. This time the rivalry is intense, with the two exchanging barbs with little mention of the others in fray,such as Suraj Prakash Jindal of the INLD, who is contesting for the first time.
Vij begins his day sitting at his fixed spot in the market in Ambala Cantt, where people tell him their problems. The announcement that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Ambala has the party cadre excited. One of the major issues Vij is banking on is the alleged discrimination of the Congress government, led by B S Hooda, against the constituency.
“I protested and demanded basic amenities, but the government did notrespond. Projects that I got approved were cancelled or delayed. I got a grain market approved which was not made, a trauma centre that was approved but shifted to another location, a bundh for flood protection was not made,” he says.
Vij, however, claims that during his previous tenures as MLA, he got several projects for Ambala Cantt. These include a bus stand, canal water for some areas and improved electricitysupply. Construction of parks and widening of drains are the other achievements he talks of.
“The area between Kalka and Karnal and Kalka and Kaithal has remained underdeveloped. Successive chief ministers have been from south Haryana and have neglected this area. This time, people will vote for Modi, for the work he is doing. It will help the state if the government here and at the Centre are of the same party,” says Vij. Singh counters Vij’s allegations, saying the Hooda government has brought much development. “Vij does not have many achievements to show. He could not get any major projects for the area,” says Singh.
He says that in the Assembly elections, there would be no “Modi wave” as people are dejected with the working of the government. “The results of the by-elections show that people have rejected the BJP. The rally by Amit Shah in Ambala received a lukewarm response,” says Singh.
The Congress candidate says he is not going to the people with any promises. He would rather talk about the work he has done in Naggal, from where he was MLA. Around 30 per cent of voters among the 1.7 lakh total voters in Ambala Cantt belong to Naggal. Singh is focusing on reaching out to people through personal interaction. Both Vij and Singh have won four elections each. He won on a BJP ticket in 1990, but left the party in 1995, contested the election a year later as an independent and won. Same was the case in 2000 when he contested and won as an independent. He, however, lost the 2005 election. In 2009 he was fielded by the BJP.
Singh has been an MLA four times from Naggal constituency in 1982, 1991, 1996 and 2005. During delimitation, his constituency ceased to exist and parts of it were merged with Ambala Cantt.