Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 11. With campaigning coming to an end in the Hisar Lok Sabha constituency on Tuesday, where the byelection is scheduled to be held on October 13, the stage is set for the triangular contest, being touted as a game-changer.
While conventional wisdom would have people believe that the Congress is contesting the bypoll with its back to the wall, the fact remains that the party has won four of the last eight elections held in the constituency since 1980. The other four elections were won by four different parties, namely Janata Dal, Haryana Vikas Party, the Indian National Lok Dal and the Haryana Janhit Congress. With the HJC leader Bhajan Lal having won the election in 2009, Congress leaders point out, a loss in the byelection would merely maintain the status-quo. But whatever the Congress says in public, a loss at Hisar is bound to have resonance in both national and state politics.
Nationally, it would give a fresh fillip to both Anna Hazare and the BJP while within the state, knives will be out against the Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, at whose insistence Jai Parkash was given the party nomination. A defeat at Hisar would also give the dissidents a chance to say that a fresh face ( Birender Singh’s son, a bureaucrat ?) would have been a better bet for the party.
The importance of the by-election for him is evident as the Chief Minister camped in the constituency for almost the entire duration of the campaign and pulled out all the stops. It was not very easy going either as he is accused of showering disproportionate attention and resources on Rohtak, Jhajjar and Sonipat in comparison to the rest of the state.
The outcome, observers believe, would largely depend on whether the Jat votes get polarised in favour of one candidate or whether they get divided between two candidates. If the Congress fails to mobilise the Jat votes, the stature of Hooda as a Jat leader would receive a blow. On the other hand, if the Jat votes swing in favour of Jai Parkash, then the Congress could still pull off a win from the jaws of defeat.
With two Jats ( Jai Parkash and Ajay Chautala) and a non-Jat ( Kuldeep Bishnoi) in the fray, caste mobilisation appears to hold the key.
For Kuldeep Bishnoi too it appears to be a do or die battle as a defeat would cast a cloud over the legacy of Bhajan Lal in the area. The family has never lost an election in Hisar except in the last Assembly election.