Jind: This Republic Day, thousands of people had gathered at Jind’s old grain market to listen to Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal who was there to campaign for the Jananayak Janata Party (JJP). The people wore AAP caps, carried brooms, along with the JJP flags.
The rally came just two days before the bypoll here and is being seen as strategic step to turn the tide in favour of the JJP candidate Digvijay Chautala.
“Kejriwal's support to the JJP is a masterstroke,” CP Singh, a Jind resident who attended the rally, said. “After his speech, Baniya (trader community) votes will go to JJP.”
In his 30 minutes long address, the Delhi CM appealed the locals to vote for the JJP in the bypolls as well as in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“I heard the trader community has some confusion over whom to vote for. Now I'm here. Is your confusion cleared up?” Kejriwal asked, drawing loud vocal approval from the crowd. “I have come from Delhi on a busy day just for you,” he told the crowd.
In addition to Kejriwal, the two Chautala brothers and AAP’s Haryana chief Naveen Jaihind were also present at the rally.
The AAP has thrown its weight behind the newly formed JJP, a splitter party borne out of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) following a bitter Chautala family feud. The JJP has fielded 27-year-old Digvijay Chautala, younger brother of Hisar MP Dushyant Chautala, in the bypoll. The elections are being seen as the newly floated party's first big test.
On Monday, 1.7 lakh voters will exercise their franchise. Though 45,000 Jats in the voter list hold the majority, but three Jat leaders in fray would likely split the majority.
On the other hand, locals believe that JJP's Digvijay will absorb a large amount of Jat votes owing to his massive support from the youngsters. Locals also say Digvijay will get the majority vote from villages. Jind constituency has over 60,000 rural voters.
The Baniya community in the city, about 11,000-strong, might just become the deciding factor. Thus, Kejriwal's final push to the JJP on the last day of campaigning could change the tide of the bypoll.
At the Saturday rally, Kejriwal drew parallels between the AAP and the JJP and said the two parties were ideologically aligned. “When the BJP and the Congress refused to do anything, we got fed up and started our own party to change things in Delhi,” Kejriwal said. “Dushyant too sacrificed his old party (INLD) and its symbol to start a new party.”
Kejriwal took a jibe at the Manohar Lal Khattar-led BJP government in state for making promises just ahead of elections and not doing much during the last four-and-a-half years. The Delhi chief minister stressed on the importance of the bypoll to Jind locals and said change was around the corner.
“The entire country is watching you. Jind result will reflect in the Lok Sabha electiosn and later in the Haryana Assembly elections,” he said.
“Haryana is the land of revolutionaries. If people of Delhi can give 67 out of 70 seats to AAP, people of Haryana can do it too,” he said.
Calling Dushyant the true descendant of late freedom fighter and popular Haryana leader Chaudhary Devi Lal, Kejriwal said that the Congress and the BJP were ridiculing and dismissing the JJP just as they had done with the AAP in its early days. “One year later, we reduced them to zero seats in Delhi,” he said.
JJP's Digvijay is up against Congress’ spokesperson and Kaithal legislator Randeep Surjewala and BJP's Krishan Midha. Midha is the son of two-time INLD MLA from Jind Hari Chand Midha, whose death necessitated the bypoll.
Digvijay said the polls were a three way contest a week ago, but the equation has changed since. “Congress is now out of the picture, all of you know that. They will finish third or fourth in the bypoll,” he said at the rally. “Even when Surjewala was PWD minister in the state, he did nothing for Jind.”
The INLD candidate, Umedh Redhu, a Jat with support from Kandela Khap villages, and Loktantra Suraksha Party (LSP) candidate Vinod Ashtri, the only Brahmin candidate, are also bound to disturb the equation for bigger candidates.
Digvijay went on to say that Jind and Haryana needed an AAP-style governance. “We need schools and hospitals like Delhi.” Digvijay's elder brother, Dushyant, also emphasised the importance of Jind bypoll, claiming that the result would be felt by the Modi government at the centre.
The rally also became a pitch for Kejriwal’s Haryana campaign and he took the opportunity to recount AAP's Delhi deeds. The AAP has been trying to make inroads in Haryana for a while now.
“The BJP and Congress could not do anything for education in decades, but the AAP government has improved every school in Delhi. Our government schools have better results than private ones,” he said.
From subsidised electricity bills to compensation amount for kins of martyred soldiers, Kejriwal read down a comparison of Delhi and Haryana governments.
“I am from Haryana too,” the Delhi CM said. “If a few young men can change Delhi, they can change Haryana as well.”
On the day of the rally, opposition parties were quick to dismiss the impact of Kejriwal's address and AAP’s support to the JJP. In the city, however, the mood was clear. Kejriwal's rally attracted thousands of people, with many of them coming from neighbouring towns and districts. A day earlier, CM Khattar's rally in support of Midha could only draw a few hundred people.
Arjun Chautala, INLD leader and son of Abhay Chautala, also downplayed AAP's impact on the bypoll. “Delhi gave a complete majority to Kejriwal but he couldn't digest it. Coming to power is not that difficult, holding on to it is,” he said.