A tough contest is in the offing for the key constituency of Uchana Kalan in Jind district as two political stalwarts, one of them a former Chief Minister and the other a strong contender for the Chief Ministership, are fighting the battle for “chaudar'” (political supremacy).

Interestingly, Congress nominee Birender Singh, grand son of the legendary Sir Chhotu Ram, has been winning in the past from here for five terms except in 2000 when he lost to the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) easily and effortlessly without much campaigning as he was eyeing the Chief Minister’s seat.

An old villager remarked that the people of this backward constituency had more or less reposed faith in Birender Singh as he was expected to bring the “chaudar” to the Jind belt.

However, Mr. Birender Singh, who was deputed by the Congress High Command to look after the election process in Maharashtra, has been confined to the constituency as former Chief Minister and INLD supremo Om Parkash Chautala, who is determined to regain power in the State, has jumped into the fray making other candidates look inconsequential.

Interestingly, the INLD cadres, who are upbeat that the party performed well in the Uchana Kalan Assembly Lok Sabha segment in the recent Lok Sabha polls, are telling the voters in their rustic style that if they exercise their mandate in favour of Mr. Chautala, they would be sending a Chief Minister to the Assembly.

As one crosses the broken roads filled with pot holes to reach a village where Mr. Birender Singh is campaigning along with his supporters, one finds almost an equal number of INLD and Congress flags atop the humble dwellings.

Mr. Birender Singh, who is Finance Minister in the present Congress Government, is greeted by the people and offered the typical Haryanvi home made sweets and soft drinks.

Talking to this correspondent, Mr.Birender Singh exudes confidence that the people would give him yet another opportunity. He adds that his contribution as Finance Minister is well known and asserts that “development is synonymous with him.”

A close supporter remarks confidentially that the contest is almost neck-to-neck as INLD cadres are reportedly intimidating some communities including the business class to exercise their mandate in favour of Mr. Chautala.

Interestingly, the entire Chautala clan is going to camp in the constituency till polling day on October 13, remarks a senior INLD leader who is overseeing the campaign in the absence of the Chautalas. He adds that Mr. Chautala is already ahead by 2,500 votes and the lead is likely to increase.

Interestingly, there seems to be no anti-incumbency factor at work and some people even say that Mr. Chautala is an “outsider” who is also contesting from the Ellenabad seat. They add that there is a strong feeling that the “chaudhar” should not go to an outsider.