Despite finishing in second position, Digvijay Chautala emerged as a winner in the Jind by-election, the results of which were declared on Thursday. The independent candidate who was backed by his brother Dushyant Chautala’s recently floated outfit JJP, to the surprise of many, secured the second position in the final vote tally.
First-timer Digvijay bagged 37,631 votes to emerge as a runner up, leaving stalwarts like Congress leader Randeep Surjewala behind. “Congress failed to be an alternative to the BJP in this election. We will emerge as an alternative in the state,” said an elated Digvijay, with a copy of results in his hand.
And while the Jananayak Janata Party’s (JJP) plans of emerging as an alternative to political parties in the state may take time to materialise, the newly-floated outfit has certainly emerged as an alternative to Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Digvijay and Dushyant virtually proved to be their grandfather OP Chautala’s nemesis and the INLD was decimated at the hands of the JJP.
The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) fared poorly, with its candidate Umedh Singh Redhu even forfeiting his security deposit. The party fetched a mere 3,454 votes in the election that saw around 1.36 lakh voters exercising their franchise.
The Jind bypoll has spelt doom for the INLD which until now had its own MLA in Late Hari Chand Midha. The demise of Midha had necessitated the election. In 2014, Midha had won the assembly election on an INLD ticket and secured 31,631 votes. Surinder Singh Barwala from the BJP stood a distant second with 29,374 votes.
Midha represented the Punjabi community which, along with the Jat vote-bank of the INLD, had propelled him to the Vidhan Sabha in 2014. This time around, his son Krishna Chand Midha was in the fray, but on a BJP ticket. The political arithmetic of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar ensured that BJP won this seat for the first time ever.
The Jind assembly segment was a fortress of the INLD. The seat was represented by Hari Chand Midha for two consecutive terms. But this time around, the INLD had split. Om Prakash Chautala’s grandsons — Digvijay and Dushyant — floated their own outfit and jumped in the bypoll fray to test their acceptability. Both the brothers camped in Jind and canvassed extensively while INLD’s Redhu focused on the plank of ‘outsiders vs locals’ by targeting Digvijay as well as Surjewala.
The suave nature of the two brothers — they greet everyone with folded hands, touch the feet of the elderly and possess a soft-spoken demeanour — seems to have helped them a lot. Their image is in stark contrast to that of their uncle Abhay Chautala and grandfather OP Chautala. The Chautalas have been infamous for their high-handedness.
Dushyant and Digvijay portrayed themselves to be a victim of a conspiracy hatched by uncle Abhay and garnered sympathy votes and managed to eat into INLD’s pie of votes. It is worth mentioning that the votes polled by the INLD in 2014 and the JJP in 2019 are more or less the same.
In Digivijay’s own words, “We got our share of votes which we were sure of. The BJP amassed votes of the Congress and other parties.” Not to mention the support of the Aam Aadmi Party, which promised baniya votes to the JJP. AAP’s Rajya MP Sushil Gupta, a baniya himself, was categorically sent by the party to declare support to JJP.