The Opposition Congress in Haryana Tuesday retained the Baroda Assembly seat with its candidate Indu Raj Narwal defeating the BJP nominee and Olympian wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt by 10,566 votes. This is Dutt’s second consecutive defeat from Baroda constituency.
In the 2019 Assembly elections, Congress’ Sri Krishan Hooda Dutt had defeated Dutt by about 4,800 votes. It was Sri Krishan’s third consecutive win from the seat. The bypoll was necessitated following Sri Krishan’s death in April.
The bypoll verdict will not impact the ruling BJP-JJP alliance that has 50 MLAs in the 90-member House. BJP also enjoys the support of several Independent MLAs.
According to the Election Commission, Narwal secured 60,636 votes (49.28 per cent) votes while Dutt got 50,070 (40.7 per cent).
Indian National Lok Dal’s Joginder Singh Malik polled 5,003 votes, little less that BJP rebel and while Loktantra Suarkasha Party candidate Raj Kumar Saini (5,601). Malik and Saini were never in the main contest since the beginning of the election campaign, but their performance was being monitored closely because they had potential to disturb the poll calculations of the Congress and BJP candidates.
It was being feared that Malik would cut into the Jat votes and Saini would bag the Dalit votes.
As many as 469 voters opted for NOTA (none of the above) option in the bypoll in which only one of the 10 other other candidates could breach the 300-mark.
Soon after the counting began, Narwal took a lead of 1,000 votes over his nearest rival Dutt. In 20 20 rounds of counting, he remained ahead in 15. Even before the counting concluded, reactions of BJP leaders accepting the “mandate of people of Baroda” started coming in.
Haryana BJP chief O P Dhankar reacting said, “Traditionally, it (Baroda) has been a Congress seat and Congress candidates have been winning from here.” However, the number of BJP votes has increased, he added.
In a tweet, Dutt said, “I accept the mandate given by the Baroda constituency and congratulate bhai Induraj. I will stand by all of you on each of the turns for my soil and country wherever my support would be required”.
Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja said, people of Baroda have given a “befitting reply” to “anti-farmers and anti-labour forces”. “The victory of Indu Raj Narwal is a win for farmers and labourers. We have been saying from day one that it will be a one-sided contest in favour of the Congress and you are seeing it now,” said Selja.
After the result was declared, Narwal accompanied by Leader of Opposition and former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda and latter’s son Deepender took part in a victory procession in the constituency.
A majorly rural area, Baroda constituency falls in Hooda’s stronghold spread mainly in Sonipat and Rohtak districts. The Jat-dominated constituency has been standing by Hooda since he got prominence in Haryana politics in 2005 when he became CM for the first time.
With Congress raising the issue of farm laws and BJP promising development for the area during the bypoll, the Jat –non-Jat factor had lately taken centre-stage in the election. In 2019 Lok Sabha polls, although Hooda, who contested from Sonipat, lost, but had maintained a significant lead in Baroda segment.