Bhajan Lal gets better of five other Bhajan Lals!

May 30th, 2008 - 10:48 am ICT by admin  

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, May 30 (IANS) His emphatic victory in a Haryana assembly by-election at the age of 77 may be a “non-event” for some, but former chief minister Bhajan Lal has shown that he can still get the better of many - including a handful of namesakes. That is exactly what the ailing politician - more famous in the early 1980s for engineering defections to come to power in Haryana - has done by contesting and winning the Adampur assembly seat this week for a record eighth time by a margin of over 26,000 votes.

The by-election to the Adampur seat in Haryana’s Hissar district, 300 km from here, was contested by six candidates bearing the name Bhajan Lal, including the original political stalwart and eventual winner.

The reason for so many Bhajan Lals being in this contest is not hard to find. Most of the ‘other’ Bhajan Lals were in the fray, obviously at the behest of vested interests, to confuse voters.

But the trick hardly worked. All the other Bhajan Lals got a combined vote count of just 461 votes - the highest one managing 137 votes and the lowest just 60 votes. Compared to this, the former chief minister himself got 56,841 votes.

“Leaders from other parties must have got Bhajan Lal namesakes to fool people and confuse them during voting. But the people of Adampur have proved that they can differentiate the real one from the fake ones,” Adampur businessman Dinesh Singla told IANS.

Bhajan Lal’s victory was dismissed by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda as a “politically meaningless non-event”.

But it’s a fact that Bhajan Lal managed to get more than the combined vote count of his nearest Congress and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) rivals - state planning board deputy chairman Ranjit Singh and former Haryana finance minister Sampat Singh - who managed only 30,653 votes and 20,136 votes respectively.

Bhajan Lal had first won the Adampur seat on the Congress ticket in 1969. He has won it eight times now. His wife Jasma Devi and son Kuldip Bishnoi also won the seat once in 1987 and 1998.

He won the seat in the February 2005 assembly polls, when he was being projected as the next chief minister, with a record margin of over 71,000 votes.

The by-election to this seat was necessitated by Bhajan Lal being disqualified and unseated in March this year under the Anti-Defection law. He had joined his new political party, the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), in December last year. As he had been elected on the Congress ticket in the February 2005 assembly polls, he was disqualified.

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