Namesakes seek to confuse pitch in Haryana by-poll

October 5th, 2011 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Chandigarh, Oct 5 (IANS) Namesakes seem to abound in Haryana’s poll politics. While Bhajan Lal, a stalwart of Haryana’s dusty and defection-ridden politics, had to contend with five of them in the 2008 assembly elections, his son Kuldeep Bishnoi is faced with four namesakes in the Hisar Lok Sabha by-election.

Bhajan Lal’s death in June this year led to the vacancy of the Hisar seat.

Among the 40 candidates in the fray for the Oct 13 by-election to the Hisar seat, Kuldeep Bishnoi, who is contesting as a Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) candidate with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) support, has four opponents with the same name - Kuldeep.

While three of them have registered their names as just ‘Kuldeep’, another one is called Kuldeep Malik. All the four ‘Kuldeeps’ are Independent candidates.

The contest is a tough one for the three main players. They are Kuldeep Bishnoi of the HJC, Ajay Chautala, son of former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), and three-time former MP Jai Prakash of the Congress.

Stakes are high for all three parties and their candidates. Hisar is the only seat that the Congress could not win out of the state’s 10 Lok Sabha seats in the May 2009 general election. Three-time chief minister, Bhajan Lal, had won the seat by a margin of around 7,000 votes against the INLD and the Congress.

Besides the three main candidates, there are six from registered political parties and 31 Independents in the fray.

Bhajan Lal had to face five namesakes when he contested the Adampur assembly seat in the last assembly poll in May 2008.

His emphatic victory in the by-election by over 26,000 votes was described by his political bĂȘte noire, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, as a “politically meaningless non-event”.

But Bhajan Lal - more famous in the early 1980s for engineering defections to come to power in Haryana - showed that he could still easily get the better of many - including a handful of Bhajan Lals.

In Haryana’s politics, it is said that namesakes are propped up by vested interests to confuse voters about the main candidates.

But, in Bhajan Lal’s case in 2008, 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 at just 60 votes. Bhajan Lal was ailing and aged 77 at the time.

Starting in 1969, when he first won the Adampur seat, Bhajan Lal won the seat eight times. His wife, Jasma Devi, and son Kuldeep Bishnoi won the seat once each in 1987 and 1998.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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