From army officer to media businessman to politician, Capt. Abhimanyu’s constant transformation has now made him one of the BJP’s most prominent Jat faces in Haryana.
Abhimanyu, 46, is believed to be among the BJP’s frontrunners for the CM’s chair. At a poll rally in Narnaund, Amit Shah mentioned a larger role for Abhimanyu and added that having been a captain in the army, he could be a captain in Haryana too. He has already played a key part in the party’s strategies, having helped formulate the manifesto.
Abhimanyu’s campaign from Narnaund has been centred on the battle between Narendra Modi’s “good governance” mantra and the alleged “corrupt Hooda and Chautala regimes”. He has lost his last three elections, two of these to Bhupinder and Deepender Hooda to the Rohtak Lok Sabha seat, but hopes to do better this time this time with the “Modi wave as a boosting factor”. He faces the Congress’s Rajbir Singh and the INLD’s Raj Singh Mor, former IPS officer and husband of incumbent MLA Saroj Mor, who defeated Abhimanyu in 2009.
A Harvard Business School graduate, Abhimanyu served the Army for six years until he quit in 1994. Two more of his five brothers are in the Army; theirs is a middle-class Arya Samaj family hailing from village Khaanda Kheri in Narnaund.
Abhimanyu got selected to the civil services, too, but chose not to take that up and instead founded a Hindi daily. He contested his first Lok Sabha election in 2005, and rose gradually in the BJP, until the party thrust him into the limelight this year by elevating him to a national secretary and the general secretary of the Haryana BJP. He was also given joint charge of BJP affairs in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, along with Amit Shah, during the Lok Sabha polls.
Abhimanyu began his campaign Sunday morning from his ancestral village and toured several other areas, all his addresses focused on the “good governance” theme. Talking to The Indian Express, he stressed that the BJP has not declared a CM candidate yet.
“The kind of CM candidates the Congress and the BJP have declared, it has given us the advantage,” he said. “Thankfully we do not have tainted candidates such as Bhupinder Singh Hooda or Om Prakash Chautala. I see myself only as a BJP worker committed to the party’s ideology, values that the party stands for, and its culture. The decision on a CM candidate are taken at appropriate forums.”
He dismissed Sushma Swaraj as a possibility, calling it “media speculation”. “We are proud of her since she represents India on international forums. She is a tall BJP leader and because she hails from Haryana, it is a matter of pride,” Abhimanyu said.
About himself, he said, “I am proud to have done exceptionally well in the previous three polls that I contested. Despite being a rookie, I was among the best BJP candidates in terms of performance. I have always contested against the wave and against the toughest competitors, yet performed well. I hope to perform much better this time.”
The BJP holds just four out of 90 assembly seats in Haryana. Asked what has changed in five years to have made the party so optimistic, Abhimanyu said, “Old calculations don’t hold this time. In the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP was leading in 62 assembly segments, means, a strike rate over 70 per cent. Going by recent trends, we should be doing much better.”