Aiming to retain all 10 LS seats in Haryana, BJP fields Khattar

Chandigarh, March 16 – The saffron party is eyeing to retain all 10 parliamentary seats that will go to the polls in Haryana on May 25 after effecting a major shake-up in the state leadership earlier this week.

Just a day after Manohar Lal Khattar, a RSS man with a clean image, was relieved as the chief minister, the saffron party announced its candidates for six Lok Sabha seats, including Khattar.

Political observers told IANS that Khattar, who is contesting parliamentary polls for the first time and has been fielded from Karnal, has been handpicked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be the “star campaigner’ in the Lok Sabha polls.

Khattar, who had been the Chief Minister since 2014, belongs to the Punjabi community in the Jat-dominated state’s politics. He resigned from the assembly seat, vacating it for the new incumbent, Saini. The assembly seat will also go for a bypoll simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections on May 25.

“For the party, the parliamentary poll is a semi-final for the assembly poll in the state that is likely to be slated in October,” a senior party leader told IANS, requesting anonymity.

Apart from Khattar, the BJP has fielded Ashok Tanwar from Sirsa (reserved), Banto Kataria from Ambala (reserved); Chaudhary Dharamabir Singh from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh; Rao Inderjit Singh Yadav from Gurugram; and Krishan Pal Gurjar from Faridabad. Both Yadav and Gurjar are the outgoing parliamentarians and Union ministers.

The Ambala seat has been lying vacant since the death of former Union minister Rattan Lal Kataria last year. The candidate on this seat is Kataria’s widow.

The Aam Aadmi Party, which is part of the INDIA bloc, has fielded Sushil Gupta as its candidate from Kurukshetra constituency.

In 2019 the BJP won all the constituencies compared to the seven-seat victory in 2014. Among these, eight are unreserved, while two are for Scheduled Caste candidates.

The BJP won all the seats: Ambala, Kurukshetra, Sirsa, Hisar, Karnal, Sonipat, Rohtak, Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, Gurugram and Faridabad.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress, AAP, the Om Prakash Chautala-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and its breakaway faction the Jannayak Janta Party, are the main parties in the fray.

The BJP in 2019 had secured an impressive vote share of 58 per cent, while the Congress got 28.4 per cent of the votes, a spike of five per cent from 22.99 per cent in 2014. Overall, the state had recorded a voter turnout of 70.3 per cent in 2019, which was higher than the national average.

As per the poll share in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 under Khattar’s leadership, the BJP got the lead in 79 Assembly seats, the Congress in 10 and the JJP on one seat.

Political observers told IANS that this time the BJP, which is facing anti-incumbency, may face a challenge as INDIA allies Congress and the AAP have agreed on seat sharing and will be contesting the election together.

The AAP will contest one seat in Haryana, while the Congress will put up candidates for the rest.

Just ahead of the polls, the BJP dropped its ally, the JJP, which is contesting on its own.

This year after the parliamentary polls, the assembly elections are likely to be held in October.

Political observers believe both the parliamentary and assembly polls will be a straight fight between Khattar’s principles of ‘Ram Rajya’ to run state affairs and his arch rival and senior Congress leader Bhupinder Hooda, who is working hard to return to power amid the party’s internal ‘war of supremacy’.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at [email protected])


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