Battleground Gurgaon

  • Abhishek Behl / FG
  • India
  • Mar 21, 2014




Bent upon somehow defeating the Party rebel and strong Hooda critic, Rao Inderjit Singh, from the Gurgaon Lok Sabha seat, the Congress has declared sitting MLA Rao Dharampal as its candidate from the constituency. His candidature is an attempt to divide the Ahirs, who have backed Rao Inderjit in the last two elections. The announcement also proves that despite the Congress being weaker now, Chief Minister Hooda still carries enough weight in the corridors of power, to be able to deny the Party ticket to Congress strongman Ajay Yadav's son, Chiranjeev Rao. Till a couple of days ago Chiranjeev Rao had been certain to get the Party ticket; his claim was also boosted by the Congress’ alliance partner in Bihar, Laloo Prasad Yadav - who happens to be his father in law – allegedly giving one more seat to the Congress in Bihar, in lieu of the Gurgaon ticket. Hooda had preferred the mandate to be given to Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, as it would have been a ‘win-win’ situation for him. If Captain Yadav won the polls it would ensure the decimation of Rao Inderjit Singh, a tall leader of South Haryana; and if he lost, it would ensure that a strong Congress leader, who could challenge Hooda's supremacy after the polls, would have been neutralised. Ajay Yadav refused to take the bait. A three-time MLA from Badshahpur, Dharampal has a good base in Gurgaon, but his performance in his last tenure has led to disaffection among his supporters as well as the local populace. The fight between three Yadavs, political analysts say, could help INLD's Zakir Hussain, because Meos in Mewat are known to vote en bloc for a single candidate from the community. The Congress basically wants to teach Rao Inderjit a lesson for revolting, and the tone and tenor of the Party leadership has been largely anti-Inderjit. It is also being felt that Yogendra Yadav of the AAP could benefit, due to this ‘special’ fight between the Congress and the BJP.

The BJP candidate, Rao Inderjit Singh, is confident that none of the stratagems of the Congress would be able to bring him down, as the people this time want to vote for the nation, and help bring Narendra Modi to power at the Centre. “If we want a government that is stable, will stop corruption and bring development to the nation, only a Modi-led Party can ensure that”, asserts Rao Inderjit, while addressing Gurgaon residents during a meeting. Rao Inderjit has pressed the campaign accelerator and is holding several meetings in a day. The BJP workers, along with his Inseam Minch supporters, are trying hard to win over the ‘urbanites’, knowing that these are the swing voters who could play an important role in the final victory. He said that existing models, rules and regulations were enough to set matters right, but the need of the hour was to ensure that these are implemented. “This will however happen only when someone from Gurgaon takes command at Chandigarh,” he asserted. Inderjit believes that he has the benefit, this time, of not only his traditional vote-bank, but also the BJP-Mode wave and a large number of ex-servicemen. It The Congress hopes to dent the traditional vote-bank through the selection of Rao Dharampal, who has a good following particularly among the Yadavs of Badshahpur and Gurgaon, and even the Muslims of Mewat. 


INLD enters the Equation: INLD meanwhile is not ready to let CM Hooda have a field day, and internally there is a feeling that the defeat of the Congress in Gurgaon would bring the standing of the CM a couple of pegs down. INLD also has a grudge with BJP. Despite repeated efforts by INLD, the BJP did not enter into a pre-poll alliance, which could have ensured an opposition clean sweep. The Party had chosen the two-time MLA Zakir Hussain from Mewat, to neutralize the likelihood of Congress playing the ‘Muslim card’. The Yadav vote is likely to split three ways. Zakir Hussain has strong political roots in the area, as his father and grandfather were elected as legislators from this area several times. The INLD move had also ensured that Congress leader Aftab Ahmed, who had been lobbying hard for a Party ticket, failed in his efforts. The INLD has announced that the Party will contest all the ten Lok Sabha seats, after it became certain that a pre-poll alliance with the BJP had become a non-starter. The INLD has distributed tickets with only winnability as the criteria, and it is likely to emerge strong after the polls, say political insiders. Addressing a gathering in Sirsa, senior Party leader Abhay Chautala said that the people of Haryana are now waiting to teach a lesson to the Congress. Targeting the HJC Chief, Kuldeep Bishnoi, he said that the HJC was working as the B team of the Congress. “As the HJC Chief has failed to handle his five MLAs, now he stands nowhere in Haryana’s politics”, he added. He said that Dushyant Chautala would create history by winning the Hisar seat with a record margin. 

The AAP Factor: AAP leader Yogendra Yadav had to don different hats during his campaign in the Gurgaon constituency. While in the City he called on the corporates for more funding and talked governance, in the villages he exuded rustic charm and sat on the ground while interacting with the masses. With a lot of diversity across Gurgaon in language as well as income, Yadav has been telling the people of Mewat that they would be shooting their feet if they allowed the victory of the BJP candidate from Gurgaon - as he is the representative of Narendra Modi. In Rewari, Yadav spoke more about the forcible land acquisition by the State government, the conversion of thousands of acres of land into Real Estate and the large-scale corruption of the Congress government. During his interactive session in the City, Yadav agreed that AAP leaders and activists should be restrained while making statements, though it is important for them to participate in the political discourse. He said that the media also needed to be interrogated. When asked why there seemed to be no intra-party democracy, Yadav said that AAP is a Party born out of a movement, and for any political Party to become a mature organization it takes almost 10 years. The Party did not find time for transition, and internal democracy became a casualty, he said. He also said that the Party holds the view that the Lok Sabha candidates should be more than aam (aadmi), and this was the reason that some ‘prominent’ names had been given the Party tickets. Referring to specific plans related to Gurgaon, Yadav said that dealing with corruption needs a long-term strategy, but accepted that the nexus between the builders and politicians was shocking. Multiple agencies in Gurgaon had failed to deliver the goods, and the City should no longer be ruled from Chandigarh. There is an urgent need for the decentralisation of power, he concluded.

The BSP sideshow: The entry of Dharampal Rathi as a BSP candidate is likely to sway some core BSP voters to his side, along with a large number of Gujjars, as Rathi belongs to that community. Rathi being an affluent candidate is also likely to spend a small fortune in this election, as he would like to be remembered as someone who put up a good fight against political veterans. Political watchers say that his entry could hit both the Congress and BJP candidates, as Gujjars have predominantly voted for Rao Inderjit and the Congress in the past.


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