The BJP on Saturday declared its first list of candidates for eight seats in Haryana for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, retaining five sitting MPs and fielding a state minister. Haryana has 10 Lok Sabha constituencies.
The party is yet to decide who it will field from the Rohtak and Hisar constituencies, where its candidates will likely contest against Congress’s Deepender Singh Hooda and former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala’s grandson Dushyant Chautala, respectively.
Along expected lines, the BJP has given tickets to its MPs – Rao Inderjit Singh from Gurgaon, Krishan Pal Gurjar from Faridabad, Dharambir Singh from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, Rattan Lal Kataria from Ambala, and Ramesh Kaushik from Sonipat.
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However, the party has dropped its Karnal MP Ashwini Chopra, who has been suffering from serious illness. Sources said Chopra wanted the party to field his wife from Karnal, which is home town of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, but the BJP has gone with its state general secretary Sanjay Bhatia from there instead. Bhatia is considered a confidant of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
Former Congress leader and three-time MP Arvind Sharma was also said to be keen on the Karnal seat, but failed to get the ticket. He is said to be miffed with the party after his candidature was ignored. There is speculation that Sharma may now be fielded from Rohtak, a seat where the names of Paralympian Deepa Malik, who recently joined the saffron party, and state ministers Manish Grover and O P Dhankar are also doing the rounds.
From Sirsa (SC) seat, currently represented by the Indian National Lok Dal, BJP has fielded former IRS officer Suneeta Duggal. She has served as the chairperson of the Haryana Scheduled Castes Finance and Development Corp and had contested the Ratia Assembly polls in 2014 but lost by a narrow margin.
Meanwhile, state Minister of State for Labour Nayab Singh Saini, who enjoys good rapport with Khattar, has been fielded from Kurukshetra in place of sitting MP Raj Kumar Saini, who has rebelled against the BJP and already formed a new political outfit, the Loktantra Suraksha Party.
Haryana BJP president Subhash Barala told The Sunday Express that discussions were on to finalise candidates for Hisar and Rohtak. “The BJP workers are happy with the selection of candidates as a balance has been made while finalising candidates keeping in view all factors.”
Meanwhile, Rao Inderjit Singh thanked “Prime Minister Narendra bhai Modi, party president Amit Shah” for “expressing confidence” in him once again.
“In my five-year tenure, I have given (Gurgaon) AIIMS in Manethi, Rewari; one rank one pension for former soldiers in Ahirwal; Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority to the people of Gurgaon; RERA, which is protecting people from coercive builders; electrification of the Delhi-Rewari railway line; and underpasses and flyovers that have made Gurgaon free of traffic jams. I will go to people and give them an account of the work done in five years,” he said.
In 2014, Rao Inderjit won the Gurgaon seat with 6,44,780 votes and is currently the Minister of State for Ministry of Planning and Minister of State for the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers.
The sitting MP from Ambala, Kataria, thanked the party’s senior leadership for reposing faith in him. “Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, the country has made progress quickly. The entire world is recognising India’s might. We are confident that people will again repose their faith in BJP and we will form the next government at the Centre,” Kataria said.
Minister Saini said he felt honoured by the decision to nominate him from Kurukshetra. “I am a disciplined soldier of my party and ever ready to take up any task given to me. I thank my party’s central and state leaderships for choosing me to fight from Kurukshetra. The BJP will win all 10 seats from Haryana,” he said.
He hit out at BJP’s rebel MP Raj Kumar Saini, saying his political career has been marked with “opportunism and letting down people of his own constituency”.
At BJP office in Panipat, sweets were distributed when news of Bhatia getting party ticket from Karnal broke out. Panipat is Karnal’s adjoining town. Bhatia has been politically active in the Panipat region. His sister Meetu Bhatia said it was a great honour for them. “We will win Karnal and other nine seats with huge margins,” she asserted.
The BJP contested the 2014 general elections in Haryana after forging an alliance with Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC). The saffron party won seven out of the eight seats it contested, while HJC lost both its seats – Hisar and Sirsa – to INLD candidates. Later, Bishnoi merged his party with the Congress.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Birender Singh’s son and IAS officer Brijendra Singh is being seen as a frontrunner for Hisar seat. Ranbir Gangwa, an INLD MLA who has resigned from the membership of Vidhan Sabha after recently joining BJP is also seen as a frontrunner for the saffron party’s ticket from Hisar. Haryana goes to polls on May 12.