The much-awaited Adampur bypoll in Haryana, scheduled for November 3, will be more of a litmus test for Congress rebel-turned-BJP leader Kuldeep Bishnoi than the BJP or Congress. A four-time MLA from Adampur and a two-time MP from Bhiwani and Hisar, Bishnoi is hoping to be declared the BJP nominee to re-contest his stronghold.
“The wait is finally over. I welcome the Adampur bypoll. Once again, Adampur will fight against the opponents and as always, Adampur will win,” Bishnoi tweeted.
The Election Commission of India on Monday announced bypolls in seven constituencies, including Andheri East (Maharashtra), Mokama (Bihar), Gopalganj (Bihar), Adampur (Haryana), Munugode (Telangana), Gola Gokrannath (Uttar Pradesh) and Dhamnagar (Odisha).
The notification for the bypolls will be issued on October 7 and the last date for filing nominations will be October 14. The candidates would be allowed to withdraw their nominations till October 17, the polls will be held on November 3 and the counting of votes will be held on November 6.
The Adampur bypoll in Haryana’s Hisar district is all set to turn into a high-stakes battle. The Bishnoi family has been representing the seat since 1968. While Bishnoi’s father Bhajan Lal won the seat from 1968 to 2000, Bishnoi won it in 2005, 2009, 2014 and 2019; and his wife Renuka won the 2012 bypoll from Adampur.
In 2014, Bishnoi got 56,757 votes (47.1 per cent) contesting as a candidate from his party, Haryana Janhit Congress (Bhajan Lal). In 2019, he contested as a Congress nominee and got 63,693 votes (51.7 per cent).
While the Aam Aadmi Party has announced it would contest all 90 Assembly constituencies of Haryana in 2024, it has not yet confirmed if it will also field a candidate in Adampur. The Congress, meanwhile, has been preparing hard to ensure that the ruling BJP-JJP receives a setback and would be eager to teach Bishnoi a lesson for deserting the party.
Bishnoi had been sulking because he was not considered for the post of Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee president and the party, instead, picked Congress Legislature Party leader and former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda loyalist Udai Bhan for the post. Ever since, Bishnoi had turned into a rebel and started openly criticising Hooda, Bhan as well as the party’s high command. In an interview to The Indian Express, Bishnoi even lashed out at Rahul Gandhi, calling him an “inaccessible leader” who “takes decisions under pressure”.
On June 10, Bishnoi got an opportunity to hit back at Congress when he cross-voted in the Rajya Sabha polls, resulting in the defeat of Congress nominee Ajay Maken. Congress had the numbers to send Maken to the Rajya Sabha, but Bishnoi’s cross-voting and a wrong ballot of another Congress MLA sank Maken’s chances. After Congress removed him from all party posts, Bishnoi quit and resigned from his membership of the Haryana Vidhan Sabha on August 3, necessitating a bypoll in Adampur. He joined BJP the next day.
Either Bishnoi, his wife Renuka or their son Bhavya might be considered as the BJP nominee for Adampur. Another candidate who could have been considered by BJP in Adampur was Tik-Tok star Sonali Phogat, who had earlier contested from Adampur but was defeated by Bishnoi in the 2019 polls by a margin of over 29,000 votes. Phogat, however, died in Goa in August.
Congress, on the other hand, recently claimed that a large number of Bishnoi family supporters have joined it. “Several staunch supporters of the Bishnoi family from Adampur have joined Congress. To name a few, the former head of Bishnoi Mahasabha (Hisar) Pradeep Beniwal, who is the son of Pokharmal Beniwal, and had helped Bhajan Lal’s family strengthen its hold in Adampur has joined Congress. Former Air Marshal Surender Kumar Ghotia and several other supporters of the Bhajan Lal family from Adampur have joined Congress. We shall definitely win this seat,” Bhupinder Singh Hooda said.
Meanwhile, Rajya Sabha MP Deepender Hooda has been working round-the-clock, meeting party workers in Adampur and ensuring that Congress wins the seat. The party, however, is yet to finalise its candidate.
If Congress wins, it would not make much of a difference to BJP but would help Congress project that winds of change have started blowing. If it loses, BJP would gain one seat and get into a more commanding position with its ally, the Dushyant Chautala-led JJP.
Currently, the 90-member Haryana Vidhan Sabha has 40 BJP MLAs, 31 MLAs from Congress, 10 from JJP, seven independents and one each from Indian National Lok Dal and Haryana Lokhit Party.
Bishnoi, on the other hand, had been actively campaigning across the length and breadth of Adampur constituency. He will be holding several public meetings on October 4, 5 and 6. His wife Renuka and son Bhavya have already been campaigning in Adampur for the last several weeks.