The December 16 civic body polls in Haryana, which will be held soon after Tuesday’s Assembly election results in five states, are being seen as an early test for the ruling BJP in the state that will face both Lok Sabha and Assembly polls in 2019.
For the first time, the civic polls will see direct mayoral elections. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s home town, Karnal, former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s stronghold Rohtak, and former CM late Bhajan Lal’s turf Hisar are among the cities where Mayors are to be elected.
Khattar, Hooda and Bhajan Lal’s family members have joined the poll campaign for MC polls by holding meetings with their supporters. Mayoral polls will be held in Panipat and Yamunanagar also apart from elections for councillors in all five towns.
Caste and community considerations have been the topmost consideration in the choice of candidates for all parties, with the BJP seeking to mobilise votes by selecting mayoral candidates from communities other than the ones to which its area MLAs belong.
For instance, the BJP has fielded sitting Mayor Renu Bala of the Aggarwal community in Karnal, as Manohar Lal Khattar who represents Karnal in the Assembly is a Punjabi, hoping to get votes from both communities. The INLD-BSP alliance, which enjoys support mainly among Jats and Dalits, has offered support to an Independent, Asha Vinod Wadhwa, who is from the Punjabi community, for Karnal Mayor. Local Congress leaders have also backed Wadhwa’s candidature. Congress is not contesting the civic body polls on party symbol, while INLD-BSP alliance has announced its candidates for four remaining towns.
In Rohtak, while BJP MLA Manish Grover, a minister in Khattar government, belongs to the Punjabi community, the party’s mayoral candidate is Manmohan Goyal from the Aggarwal community and son of former minister Seth Shri Krishan Dass. But former Chief Minister Hooda has offered support to an Independent, Sita Ram Sachdeva, from the Punjabi community.
A young civil engineer Sanchit Nandal, who is son of INLD’s district president Satish Nandal, is INLD-BSP’s choice in Rohtak, while a well known woman activist Jagmati Sangwan, former General Secretary of All India Democratic Women Association (AIDWA), is CPI(M)’s candidate.
Gautam Sardana, who is from Punjabi community, is BJP’s mayoral face in Hisar, while the local MLA Kamal Gupta is from the ‘baniya’ community. But Sardana’s candidature has upset local BJP leader Hanuman Aren, who is from Aggarwal community. He has instead fielded wife, Rekha Aren, and the Congress has backed her.
Media Adviser to the CM and BJP leader Rajiv Jain said, “Winnablity and commitment to the party played important role in the selection of BJP’s candidates.”
Kin of late Bhajan Lal and former minister and industrialist late Om Prakash Jindal have been playing important role in local politics of Hisar. Jindal’s wife Savitri Jindal has been an MLA from Hisar and minister in Hooda government while Jindal’s son Naveen Jindal had earlier represented Kurukshetra Lok Sabha constituency. To take on BJP candidate in Hisar, Jindal and Bhajan Lal families have joined hands to back Rekha Aren’s candidature. She also has Hooda’s blessings. The INLD-BSP alliance’s mayoral candidate Amit Saini is son of INLD leader Ramkumar Saini.