The BJP Sunday declared candidates for two Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, picking Union minister Birender Singh’s IAS officer son, Brijendra, for Hisar constituency and three-time MP Arvind Sharma, who recently joined the saffron party, for Rohtak.
Both Hisar and Rohtak are high-stakes constituencies, considered strongholds of Bhajan Lal (Indian National Lok Dal) and Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Congress) families. The BJP has now named candidates for all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana, where polling will be held in the sixth phase on May 12.
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Immediately after Brijendra’s name was announced, his father announced that he has offered to resign from the Cabinet and from the Rajya Sabha “to send across a message of anti-dynastic politics”.
“I have told party high command that I am ready to let go of my remaining three-and-a-half years of Rajya Sabha tenure and would like to resign from the ministership, too. I have informed BJP president Amit Shah,” the Union minister said,
“BJP had always been against dynastic politics. I have expressed my desire to quit elective politics, not active politics. The final decision shall be taken by the party,” said Birender who has had a 47-year-long political career, of which he spent 42 years with the Congress.
He said he will be campaigning for Brijendra in Hisar and other BJP candidates in Haryana and Rajasthan. Asked if his son has taken voluntary retirement from service, the Union minister said, “He resigned from the service three days ago. In another 2-3 days, the process should be complete”.
Birender had joined the BJP in 2014 after openly revolting against Hooda, the then chief minister. His wife Prem Lata is a BJP MLA from Uchana Kalan assembly constituency in Jind district.
Brijendra, a 1998-batch IAS officer who served as deputy commissioner in various districts of Haryana and in Union Territory of Chandigarh too, said that he supports and respects his father’s decision but the same time, “it puts more responsibility on my shoulders”.
The bureaucrat, who was posted as managing director, Haryana State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation (HAFED), saw similarities between his previous job and his future assignment, saying the purpose of both is to serve people, the state and the country. He felt that in politics there is a more direct connect with the people and said that a MP’s vision should not be limited to his constituency, but should extend to the whole country.
On the legacy of his great grandfather, Jat icon and farmer leader Sir Chotu Ram, he said, “Since childhood, I was impacted by his ideology”.
In Rohtak, BJP has fielded Arvind Sharma banking on the non-Jat communities. There are approximately three lakh Brahmin votes in Rohtak parliamentary constituency. A Brahmin leader, Sharma is a native of village Majra in Bahadurgarh town of Rohtak. Before joining politics, he had also served as a dental surgeon in Rohtak under Haryana Civil Medical Services for some years.
Sharma was twice elected to the Lok Sabha from Karnal as Congress candidate – in 2004 and 2009 – and had also represented Sonipat as an Independent MP in 1996. After losing the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Karnal to BJP’s Ashwini Chopra by a margin of over 3.6 lakh votes, he joined BSP ahead of the state assembly polls the same year. Projected as BSP’s chief ministerial candidate, Sharma contested from Yamunanagar and Julana assembly seats. In both the seats, he finished a distant third.
Last month, he quit BSP and joined BJP.
Sharma shall now be taking on Congress’ three-time MP from Rohtak, Deepender Hooda.
Congress, has not yet declared its candidate from Hisar. Party insiders say that Kuldeep Bishnoi, the Congress MLA from Adampur constituency, is ticket for his son Bhavya. Kuldeep too had contested from Hisar parliamentary seat on Haryana Janhit Congress (Bhajan Lal) ticket in 2014, but lost to then Indian National Lok Dal’s Dushyant Chautala. Kuldeep. He later contested assembly polls from his family’s traditional Adampur seat and was elected an MLA. His wife Renuka Bishnoi was also elected on HJC (BL) ticket from Hansi in 2014 assembly polls. Later, HJC (BL) merged into Congress in 2016.