Rajesh Ahuja

Battle lines drawn for the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana

Ajay Chautala to contest from Bhiwani

INLD ally BJP has already named its candidates

CHANDIGARH: The political battleground in Haryana, which goes to the polls on May 7, is becoming clearer as the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD)-BJP combine has formally announced its nominees for the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the State and the ruling Congress, which is understood to have finalized its candidates, likely to make a formal announcement on Monday. And the third player - the fledgeling Haryana Janhit Congress which was floated by former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal and his younger son, Kuldip Bishnoi, is also likely to announce its candidates in the next few days. The Congress had won nine seats in the 2004 general elections while the Sonepat seat was won by BJP nominee Kishan Singh Sangwan.

According to highly-placed sources, the Congress High Command is likely to retain sitting MPs Deepender Singh Hooda (Rohtak), Arvind Sharma (Karnal), Jai Parkash (Hisar), Naveen Jindal (Kurukshetra), Rao Inderjit Singh (Gurgaon), Avtar Singh Bhadana (Faridabad) while it is certain to change the candidates for the remaining constituencies. Union Minister of State for Poverty Alleviation Selja, who is sitting MP from Ambala is being shifted to her old constituency of Sirsa as Atma Singh Gill has been “dropped.”

The name of Haryana Congress unit President Phool Chand Mullana is understood to have been “finalized’ for Ambala while Haryana Finance Minister Birender Singh is likely to contest from Sonepat seat, the sources added. The erstwhile Bhiwani constituency, which was won by the Congress in the 2004 polls after Mr. Bishnoi defeated the late Surender Singh (HVP) and Ajay Chautala (INLD), has been rechristened Bhiwani-Mahendergarh.

Interestingly, the Bhiwani seat fell vacant after Mr.Bishnoi was “disqualified” by Lok Sabha Speaker last year. This time, the Congress is likely to field Shruti Choudhry daughter of late Surender Singh and Haryana Minister of State for Tourism Kiran Choudhry, from the Bhiwani seat which is bound to witness a keen tussle as the INLD has already declared the candidature of Mr.Ajay Singh Chautala, and Mr.Bishnoi is likely to recontest from here.

The BJP had taken the lead in announcing candidates for the five seats it is contesting on March 13 and the alliance partner INLD announced its nominees for the remaining five seats on Sunday. It is fielding former Union Minister I.D.Swami from Karnal, Rattan Lal Kataria (Ambala), Kishan Singh Sangwan (Sonepat), Ram Chander Bainda (Faridabad), and Sudha Yadav (Gurgaon).

INLD President and former Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala announced that former Finance Minister Sampat Singh would be the party’s nominee from Hisar, INLD State President Ashok Arora (Kurukshetra), Dabwali MLA Sita Ram (Sirsa), and Nafe Singh Rathee (Rohtak).

The HJC, which recently joined the newly-floated Third Front, had announced the candidatures of Krishanmurti Hooda (Rohtak), Narbir Singh (Gurgaon) and Chander Bhatia (Faridabad) long time back. According to Haryana watchers, the party is likely to field Mr.Bhajan Lal from either Hisar or Karnal. They add that Mr.Bishnoi appears to be waiting for the Congress to announce its nominees before he reveals his cards and announces candidates for the remaining seven seats.

The Bahujan Samaj Party has also announced to field candidates for all the 10 seats while the CPI (M) has fielded Ram Kumar from the Sirsa seat and the CPI has fielded Mam Chand Saini from Karnal.