With just two weeks remaining for the Assembly polls in Haryana, rebels have given a headache to both the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress, with a few of them entering the contest as Independents.
Both parties are facing resentment from leaders who have been denied party tickets. With filing of nominations coming to a close on Friday, Randhir Kapriwas — BJP MLA from Rewari — who has been was replaced by Sunil Musepur, has entered the fray as an Independent.
“I have been a loyal worker of the BJP, always holding the party’s flag high, and raised issues concerning public. I never indulged in any anti-party activity, but don’t know why I have been made to pay the price,” said Kapriwas. “When an outsider was fielded, my supporters told me that I should fight and enter the contest.”
After being replaced by Sudhir Singla, BJP’s sitting Gurugram MLA Umesh Aggarwal has fielded his wife Anita from the constituency as an Independent candidate. Aggarwal has not been on good terms with Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. On Thursday, Aggarwal posted a sarcastic tweet in Hindi, which read “Look at the blade of this axe, some have been axed while some are ready to be chopped off.”
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On the other hand, Congress leader Ranjit Singh Chautala, son of late deputy prime minister Devi Lal, entered the fray from Rania as an Independent after the Congress fielded Vineet Kamboj there.
Though a few leaders from both the parties have not entered the contest, they are expressing resentment against the candidates who had been allocated tickets.
Out of 48 sitting MLAs, the BJP has denied tickets to 12, including ministers Rao Narbir Singh and Vipul Goel and replaced them with fresh faces. The saffron party accommodated several turncoats, mostly from the Indian National Lok Dal, who joined it ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and the upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections.
In the Congress camp, the infighting in the Haryana unit of the party reached the doorstep of party president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday with former Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ashok Tanwar and his supporters protesting outside her 10 Janpath home in Delhi, alleging corruption in the distribution of tickets in Haryana. On Saturday, Tanwar resigned from the primary membership of the party.
“Congress is going through existential crises, not because of its political opponents but because of serious internal contradiction,” he said in a four-page letter posted on Twitter and addressed to Gandhi. Weeks before the polls, Tanwar was replaced by Kumari Selja as the party’s state unit chief and his bete noire Bhupinder Singh Hooda was made the Congress Legislature Party leader, after exerting pressure on the central leadership.
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Despite the Congress fielding his son Chiranjeev Rao from Rewari, former minister Ajay Singh Yadav seems to be unhappy. Referring to the list of Congress candidates whop are set to contest from the assembly segments of Gurgaon Lok Sabha constituency, he tweeted on Wednesday, “Majority of them are defectors, turn coats and non congress men who openly opposed me in Lok Sabha election 2019”. Ajay Yadav had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha poll this year from Gurgaon.
Meanwhile, BJP’s Guhla MLA Kulwant Ram Bazigar said the party should tell him why he had not been renominated.
The BJP won 47 seats in the 2014 assembly polls. After its win in the Jind bypoll earlier this year, the partys strength rose to 48. It has set a target of 75 plus seats this time. Congress, on the other hand, has 17 legislators in the outgoing House.
Apart from BJP and Congress, the other players in the contest include the Indian National Lok Dal, which entered into an alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Jannayak Janta Party, which came into existence after a split in the INLD, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Aam Aadmi Party, the Swaraj India and the Loktantra Suraksha Party.
(With inputs from agencies)