Chandigarh: In what seemed to be just another bypoll even a month ago, the scenario in Jind today has virtually transformed into a battle of existence for political parties in Haryana.
The outcome of the bypoll will decide the agenda for the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the state.
All the major political parties are slugging it out against each other for victory in Jind, the by-election to which was necessitated by the demise of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) MLA Hari Chand Midha.
Midha’s son Krishna Midha is contesting the bypoll, albeit on a BJP ticket. The ruling BJP in the state managed to bring Midha into its fold just ahead of the announcement of the bypoll. A doctor of ayurvedic medicine and surgery, Midha represents the Punjabi Brahmin community in Jind which is predominantly a Jat-dominated constituency.
However, no Jat leader has won the Jind assembly seat since 1972. There are about 12,000 voters each of the Brahmin and Punjabi communities in Jind.
Though 21 candidates are in fray, the contest is primarily among the BJP, Congress, INLD and the newly formed Jananayak Janata Party (JJP).
BJP MP from Kurukshetra, Rajkumar Saini, has also fielded a Punjabi Brahmin candidate from his Loktantra Suraksha Party (LJP).
Vinod Aasri, a two-time Nagar Parishad chief, was a Congress leader before joining LSP. Saini, who is banking on the OBC and Punjabi Brahmin votes, may spoil the calculations of many.
While political pundits had almost handed over the seat to the ruling BJP, the announcement of Randeep Singh Surjewala’s candidature by the Congress changed the equations overnight.
The bypoll has transformed into a fiery battle involving high stakes for the contestants, especially for Surjewala, who also harbours the dream of making it to the chief minister’s chair. Though Congress leaders, rather the party’s CM aspirants, have put together a united face so far, a victory for them can be read in Surjewala’s loss.
Similarly, it would be a litmus test for chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar ahead of the Lok Sabha election as the outcome might be seen as a barometer of his performance. For INLD and JJP, the bypoll will reflect how much weight each of the factions carry after the split.
The importance of the seat can be gauged from the fact that Khattar himself has held a couple of rallies in the constituency.
With a population of about 1.70 lakh, the seat has about 1.07 lakh urban voters. Over 45,000 voters belong to the Jat community. This might be a primary reason for the Congress to field
Surjewala, a tall Jat leader, from the constituency. While the INLD has fielded Umedh Singh Redu, JJP has gone with Digvijay Chautala, both hailing from the Jat community and first-timers too.
The strength of OBC voters in Jind is about 45,000, while voters belonging to scheduled castes make up for another 38,000 votes.
The Baniya or trader community which has about 11,000 votes may also play a deciding factor. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has lent its support to the JJP and the one who made the announcement was AAP MP Sushil Gupta, a Baniya leader.
The voting for Jind bypoll will take place on Tuesday, while the counting will be held on January 31.