The campaigning for the forthcoming Haryana assembly elections came to an end on Saturday evening, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing two rallies in Rewari and Ellenabad on the last day. The state will vote in a single-phase voting for the 90-member Assembly on October 21, results of which will be declared on October 24.
A total of 1168 candidates will slug it out for 90 seats in an election in which the main contest is seen between the BJP, Congress, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Haryana has over 1.83 crore voters, of which around 83 lakh are women.
As many as 19,578 polling stations, 13,837 of these in rural areas, have been set up across the state amid tight security arrangements, news agency PTI reported quoting officials.
While the ruling BJP made the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 a major poll plank, the opposition targeted the government over issues of unemployment and farmers’ distress during campaigning.
Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, addressed public rallies in Haryana’s Mahendragarh and Nuh. His speeches largely mirrored those made during the Lok Sabha campaign as he continued to target the Centre over GST, demonetisation and the economic slowdown.
“For 10 years, Dr Manmohan Singh worked towards boosting the economy. There is only one way to take India’s economy forward- remonitise farmers, laborers unemployed youth and the poor,” Gandhi said in Mahendragarh. “Narendra Modi has no understanding of the economy. He even called the MNREGA a bad plan. I was told by some economists that the reason for the rapid growth of the country’s economy during 2004–14 was MNREGA and farm loan waiver.”
Star candidates in Haryana
The BJP fielded newcomers and sports stars in several districts of Haryana for the upcoming Assembly elections. In its first list of 78 candidates, the party fielded newly inducted sports stars Yogeshwar Dutt, Babita Phogat, and Sandeep Singh. Dutt and Babita will contest from Baroda and Dadri, respectively, while former Indian Hockey captain Sandeep Singh will contest from Pehowa.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar will contest from Karnal and state BJP chief Subhash Barala will fight from Tohana.
In its second list of 12 candidates, the party included Sonali Phogat, TikTok star and state vice president of Mahila Morcha. Sonali has been fielded from Adampur.
In its first list, the Congress announced 84 names, including former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, senior Congress leaders Randeep Singh Surjewala and Kiran Choudhry.
Hooda has been again fielded from Garhi Sampla-Kiloi, Randeep Surjewala from Kaithal, while Kiran Choudhry is Congress’s choice from Tosham seat.
Former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal’s both sons — Kuldeep Bishnoi (Adampur) and Chander Mohan (Panchkula) are among the candidates announced by the party.
A long-time INLD state president and former minister Ashok Arora, who had recently joined Congress, has been fielded from Thanesar.
Sitting Independent MLA and former union minister Jai Prakash, who recently joined Congress, is the party candidate from Kalayat, while former MLA Pradeep Choudhary, who had recently joined the Congress leaving INLD, has been fielded from Kalka.
Meanwhile, Congress state chief Ashok Tanwar resigned from the primary membership of the party on October 5. Ending his nearly three-decade-long association with the Congress, Tanwar said that the party has been “plagued by feudal attitudes and medieval conspiracies”.
He not only accused former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Haryana in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad of “hatching conspiracies”, but added that “Congressmen who rise from the grassroots and belong to non-political and humble family backgrounds are not valued. Money, blackmail and pressure tactics seem to work at the end.”
Jannayak Janata Party (JJP)
The Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janata Party released the first list of seven party candidates, including a former state minister and two former legislators. The party has fielded Devender Kadiyan from Panipat Rural seat; Anoop Dhanak from Uklana (SC); Ram Kumar Gautam from Narnaund; Rao Ramesh Palri from Mahendergarh; Kamlesh Saini from Narnaul; Shyam Sundar from Bawal (SC); and Harsh Kumar from Hathin seat.
Harsh Kumar is a former state minister and two time MLA and had joined the JJP in February this year after quitting the BJP. He was made a minister in the Bansi Lal government after he won from Hathin on Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) ticket in 1996.
Ram Kumar Gautam is also a former legislator. He had won the 2005 Assembly polls as a BJP candidate.
Anoop Dhanak, who had won 2014 Assembly polls from Uklana constituency as an INLD candidate, will contest from the same seat.
Rao Ramesh Paldi, contesting from Mahendragarh, is JJP’s Mahendragarh district president. The seat is currently represented by Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma in the Assembly.
The Haryana BJP, in its manifesto, focused on interest-free loans for farmers and Scheduled Castes, free education for girls from poor families, and skill training for 25 lakh youth.
Releasing the manifesto, BJP working president JP Nadda said, “This is a practical, pragmatic paper. It is doable. Manohar Lal Khattar has changed the image of Haryana. It is not only cosmetic change, but fundamental change as well. The political culture of the state has been drastically changed.”
“The image of Haryana was such that it was a synonym of corruption and nepotism. Today, Haryana is brashtachaar-mukt, vikas-yukt. This commitment paper represents and addresses the questions of every section of the society,” he added.
As Congress looks to resurrect itself in Haryana, the party has promised 33 per cent reservation for women in government and private jobs. It has also promised to give free rides to all women passengers on Haryana roadways buses and an allowance of Rs 3,500 per month for pregnant women till the birth of each child. Besides, the party promised a 50 per cent reservation for women in Panchayati Raj institution, municipality corporations and city councils.
The party, additionally, has promised to waive farm loans within the first 24 hours, provide 300 units of free electricity to every household and an increase in old age pension till Rs 5,100. The Congress has also assured one job per family as per the qualifications, along with an allowance of Rs 7,000 for graduates and Rs 10,000 for a post-graduate until they secure a job. The party has also promised free health care services for poor and needy people. The party also promised the formation of Special Task Force to fight drug abuse in Haryana and drug rehabilitation centres will be opened in each village.
Jannayak Janta Party (JJP)
Dushyant Chautala-led Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) has promised 75 per cent reservation for Haryana residents in government and private jobs and a monthly honorarium of Rs 3,000 to every mother for bringing up two children if the party is voted to power in the upcoming Assembly polls. In its 160 promises manifesto, the party has also promised free education to girls up to the PhD level. Free change of land use for farmers to enable them to pursue self-employment is also among the promises. The JJP has also promised closure of liquor vends in villages and farm loan waiver.