Eyeing its maiden victory in three constituencies in Haryana’s Muslim-dominated Mewat district, the BJP has fielded two MLAs who were elected on INLD tickets in 2014 and a 28-year-old who is the district’s only woman candidate.
According to the 2011 census, 79.2 of Mewat’s population is Muslim, as are two of the three BJP candidates.
Nuh, Punhana and Ferozepur Jhirka constituencies have eluded the BJP since the first election in Haryana in 1967, despite the party occasionally giving tickets to candidates from the dominant community.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, despite the popularity of PM Narendra Modi in the preceding Lok Sabha polls, the BJP could not even secure the position of runner-up in the three constituencies. Its Ferozepur Jhirka candidate, Chaudhary Alam Mundal, finished fourth, losing to INLD’s Naseem Ahmed. Ahmed has since joined the BJP, and the party has pinned its hopes on the two-time MLA —- he was also elected on an INLD ticket in 2009. Son of former Congress minister Shakrullah Khan, Ahmed had joined the Congress in May this year and BJP in August.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Ahmed said, “BJP was not a major force in Haryana. But after 2014, under the leadership of Manohar Lal Khattar, the party has got the tag of honest government, which has made it a strong force.”
He added, “The BJP did not have an MLA in Mewat, but it worked in the district, especially on water and electricity. I want to see Mewat develop and become an industrial hub.”
The BJP’s candidate from Nuh, Zakir Hussain, also won the 2014 elections on an INLD ticket, and joined the BJP in June. The grandson of Mohammad Yasin Khan, who was a Punjab MLA, and the son of former MLA and MP Tayyab Hussain, this is Hussain’s third stint as MLA.
In the 2014 elections, Hussain had defeated BJP candidate Sanjay, who came third.
While campaigning, Hussain has, like Ahmed, spoken of development. “Despite Mewat not having any BJP MLA, the CM did so much for the district. That is why I decided to join the BJP. We will work for Mewat’s development and take everyone forward while maintaining brotherhood,” Hussain said at a jansabha on Friday.
The BJP’s Punhana candidate, Nauksham Chaudhary (28), is the daughter of a retired judge and an HCS officer. She did her BA and MA from Delhi University’s Miranda House, and Masters in Luxury Brand Management from Italy and in Media and Communications from London.
At a jansabha on Thursday, she said: “Support a common girl. I am a girl like you. People say girls cannot do anything, I should go back, but why should I go back when people are giving blessings? If I had to go back, why would I come here from abroad?”
About her plans for the seat, Chaudhary mentioned “good education” for girls, a university in Mewat, a de-salinisation plant and industry to provide employment.