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Monday, October 26, 2020

In Baroda, BJP looks to do a Jind — with some help from JJP

The seat in the Jat heartland held special significance as the BJP had never won it. A total of 21 candidates were in fray. BJP made history as it trounced the Chautalas in their own backyard.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | October 1, 2020 2:12:10 am
In Baroda, BJP looks to do a Jind — with some help from JJPBJP’s Manohar Lal Khattar with JJP’s Dushyant Chautala

In January last year, the BJP went all guns blazing as it looked to snag the Jind Assembly seat where a bypoll was necessitated following the death of INLD legislator Hari Chand Midha in August 2018.

The seat in the Jat heartland held special significance as the BJP had never won it. A total of 21 candidates were in fray. BJP made history as it trounced the Chautalas in their own backyard. BJP’s Krishan Midha defeated JJP’s Digvijay Chautala, incumbent Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala’s younger brother, by a margin of over 12,000 votes.

Nine months later, in September 2019, as Haryana went to polls, BJP fielded wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt from Baroda Assembly constituency. Dutt, however, lost to Congress’ Sri Krishan Hooda by a margin of over 4,800 votes. For Sri Krishan Hooda it was third third consecutive win from the seat. The legislators died in April this year. As the seat goes to bypolls on November 3, BJP is expected to again stake claim to the constituency that it had never won. The party will contest the seat in alliance with the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), with which it had entered into a tie up after last year’s state polls.

The constituency, located in the heart of Jat-dominated belt of Sonipat district in Haryana, has nearly 49 per cent Jat voters followed by a substantial number of Dalits. Majority of voters in the constituency belong to the rural areas. With the ongoing farmers’ agitation and growing resentment of people against BJP-JJP leaders, especially those belonging to the Jat community, the bypoll will not be an easy task for the ruling alliance.

There are a total of over 177,994 registered voters – 55.38 per cent men and 44.62 per cent women – in Baroda Assembly constituency. In 2019 Assembly polls, the constituency witnessed 68 per cent voter turnout. While Sri Krishan Hooda had got 34.67 per cent votes, BJP’s Dutt had got 30.73 per cent and JJP’s Bhupinder 26.45 per cent votes. A total of 11 candidates had contested in 2019.

Riding high on the Modi wave across the country, BJP came to power in Haryana for the first time with an absolute majority in 2014 Assembly polls. It continued its victory-run till December 2018 when the party swept mayoral polls grabbing the post in Karnal, Rohtak, Hisar, Panipat and Yamunanagar. It was for the first time when direct mayoral polls were held in Haryana. However, in October 2019, BJP’s rising graph in the state received a major jolt when eight of its ministers lost their constituencies.

The Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP could win only 40 seats in the 90-member House and almost lost the state as it fell short of six to form the government. Dushyant Chautala-led JJP won 10 and Congress, making a significant comeback, won 31 seats – more than double of 15 in 2014. Six independent candidates too won and later supported BJP even as the saffron party went into a post-poll alliance with the JJP.

The first year of forming the government in Haryana had been a turbulent one for the BJP-JJP alliance. Several of the Cabinet ministers are currently facing protests in their constituencies.

Farmers and employees, supported by opposition Congress and Indian National Lok Dal, are up in arms against the government in several parts of the state. Series of protests have taken place outside Dushyant Chautala’s residence in Sirsa. Mazdoor Sangh on Wednesday announced to protest outside the residence of power minister Ranjit Singh in Sirsa on Thursday.

Considered a Congress’ stronghold, Baroda bypoll is all set to be a high-stake battle. Although BJP-JJP alliance, currently, appears to be facing no immediate threat to its rule in the state as far as the numbers are concerned (BJP-40, JJP-10 in the 90-member House) but Congress is not leaving any stone unturned to retain the Baroda constituency. It has been over two months since leaders from all the major political parties in Haryana had been campaigning in Baroda in an attempt to woo the voters.

Leader of opposition and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, although lost Sonipat parliamentary seat to BJP’s Ramesh Chander Kaushik in 2019 but had led by a substantial margin in Baroda assembly segment that is one of the nine constituencies under Sonipat Lok Sabha constituency.

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