Opposition parties Sunday took on the BJP for “an objectionable advertisement seeking votes on caste lines” in civic body polls in Karnal, the home town of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, even as the BJP leaders appeared distancing themselves from the advertisement.
Haryana State Election Commissioner Dalip Singh told The Indian Express that the advertisement “seems objectionable”. “We will look into it tomorrow,” he said.
The advertisement appeared in local editions of Hindi dailies in Karnal on Sunday. The advertisement read: “52 sal me mila Haryana ko pahla Punjabi Mukhyamantri agar aaj galati ki to 60 sal me fir mauka nahi milega. Ajad partyashi ke kandhe par bandhook rakhkar Punjabi samuday ke mukhyamantri ko hatana chahate hain kuch jati vishesh ke neta. Punjabi samaj ke logo ka anurodh Punjabi mukhyamantri ka khulkar karen samarthan. (It is for the first time that Haryana has got a CM from the Punjabi community in 52 years of its inception . If you make a mistake today, you won’t get such chance in the next 60 years. Some people from a particular caste want to remove the Punjabi CM by firing from the Independent candidate’s shoulder. It’s a request from the Punjabi community to openly support the Punjabi CM).”
The advertisement had photos of Khattar, PM Narendra Modi and Karnal BJP mayoral candidate Renu Bala Gupta, who is from the Aggarwal community. An Independent candidate Asha Wadhwa is Gupta’s poll opponent. Congress and INLD-BSP alliance had backed Wadhwa, who is a Punjabi.
Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala said: “We don’t believe in the politics of caste….I am not aware about such advertisement.” Media Adviser to Khattar, Rajiv Jain, who is related to Renu Bala, also expressed ignorance. However, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, who addressed a rally in Sonipat Sunday, hit out at the CM. “Khattar is asking for votes from all Punjabis.Khattar sahib kah rahe hain ki me to Punjabiyon ka mukhyamantri hun (Is Khattar sahib saying that he is the CM of Punjabis),” he said.
In a tweet, Haryana Congress chief Ashok Tanwar said, “It’s shocking to see how @BJP4Haryana leaders and @mlkhattar stoop too low in public domain by seeking votes on caste basis and dividing Haryana.”
69 per cent turnout in Haryana civic body polls
The first direct mayoral polls in Haryana towns went off peacefully Sunday amid heavy security arrangements. The elections assume significance as they have been conducted in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.
The voting for civic body polls took place in the home towns of Khattar (Karnal) and also former CMs Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Rohtak) and Bhajan Lal (Hisar).
Dalip Singh told The Indian Express that they have not received a single complaint from any part of the state till late evening. “Hundred per cent EVMs remained functional during the voting for the civic body polls,” he said.
The polls for Mayor and ward councillors took place in five towns — Rohtak, Karnal, Hisar, Panipat and Yamunanagar apart from ward councillor polls for two Municipal committees — Jakhal Mandi in Fatehabad and Pundri in Kaithal district.
State Election Commissioner Dalip Singh stated that the overall percentage in these elections remained 69.39 per cent.