From hinting at a ministerial berth for Yogeshwar Dutt if he wins to harping on his sporting glory, the BJP-JJP alliance has left no stone unturned to ensure that the Olympian wrestler wrests the Baroda Assembly constituency from the Congress, which has put its might behind Induraj Narwal, a rookie. The high voltage campaign for the November 3 bypoll came to an end Saturday.
The bypolls was necessitated due to the demise of Congress MLA Shri Krishan Hooda in April. He had won the seat three consecutive times.
On the final day of campaigning, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala together addressed 15 public gatherings across several villages of the constituency. The duo continued to castigate former chief minister and Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda on issues of nepotism and corruption. Hooda, on the other hand, based Congress’ entire campaign around the three central farm legislations, difficulties being faced by farmers at mandis, and lack of development in Baroda during last six years of BJP rule in state.
In 2019 Assembly elections, approximately 68 per cent voters had exercised their franchise in Baroda. The political parties are apprehending a lower turnout this time owing to the Covid pandemic.
Addressing a gathering at Rajgharana in Gohana, Khattar said the contest was only between the BJP-JJP and the Congress. “On one side is the alliance (BJP-JJP) and the other side is the Congress. You just compare the two contestants. On one side is our candidate wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, who is internationally renowned. When he got medals, every Indian was proud of his feat. He brought laurels to the nation. On the other side is (Congress candidate) Induraj. Somebody is telling me that they have not seen him addressing people,” said Khattar.
Khattar said Dutt has the vision and enthusiasm for Baroda and he is capable of carrying out welfare works for this constituency in every way.
Wooing the voters, both Khattar and Dushyant hinted at the possibility of Dutt getting a ministerial berth if Baroda elects him as their representative. “You ensure his victory on November 10 (the counting day) and we will ensure he gets a flag on his vehicle on November 11,” Dushyant said while addressing a gathering in one of the villages.
Endorsing Dushyant’s assurance, Khattar added, “If our Deputy CM tells me something, how can I refuse him. The ball is in your court and after 10th, it will be in our court. I assure you that Dutt will get the flag”.
In 2019 polls, Sri Krishan Hooda had secured 34.67 per cent votes, while Dutt, who contested as BJP nominee for the first time, had got 30.73 per cent. Dutt lost by a thin margin of nearly 4800 votes. JJP had contested 2019 Assembly polls, separately and entered into a post-poll alliance with BJP. JJP’s candidate Bhupinder Malik too had got over 26.45 per cent votes. Since both BJP and JJP are contesting this bypoll together, the alliance hopes that their vote shares will add up and ensure Dutt’s victory.
Khattar said the state government had carried out development works worth Rs 165 crore in Baroda in the last four months. “People of Baroda tell me that lack of canal water is a major issue here. It is the MLA’s responsibility to convey his constituency’s concerns to the government. I do not know why the Shri Krishan Hooda never came to me and raised any issue of his constituency,” said Khattar.
He said Bhupinder Hooda, “due to his ego never approached me” to raise these issues. .
Dushyant said while Dutt can take up Baroda’s issues with the president and the prime minister, the Congress candidate himself has said his reach is limited only to “Bapu-Beta” (Bhupinder Hooda and Deepender Hooda).
Meanwhile, Bhupinder Hooda, hit back at Khattar and Dushyant saying that while they “bothered about me, I am worried not only about Baroda” but entire Haryana.
“BJP-JJP’s campaigners have nothing to show on what they did for Baroda. They are only passing personal remarks against me and making castles in the air. People of Baroda will give this government a befitting reply,” Hooda said while addressing a gathering of advocates in Gohana.
He also compared his tenure with BJP’s six years and elaborated what all came up across Sonipat and specifically in Baroda constituency during Congress’s 10 year tenure from 2005 till 2014.
On the other hand, campaigning for party candidate Joginder Malik, INLD chief and and former CM Om Prakash Chautala, who is currently out on parole, sought votes in the name of his father and former Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal.
Reminding the people of the struggle of the people under the leadership of Chaudhary Devi Lal for attaining statehood, Chautala announced that whenever the INLD is voted back to power it will raise the old age pension in Haryana to Rs 5,400.
He urged the voters of Baroda to elect an MLA who was approachable and sensitive to the needs of the people.
Earlier, addressing the audience, INLD Secretary General Abhay Singh Chautala, who is also party’s lone MLA in the 90-member House, accused the Congress and the BJP of being hand-in-glove over the issue of agriculture laws.
Abhay asserted that people of Baroda are united in their resolve to fight for their rights and INLD will stand by them and support and lead them to safeguarding their interests.