From hefting grain sacks to running tea stalls, Haryana’s Lok Sabha candidates find unique photo-ops to woo voters

Candidates can also be seen joining in folk dances, attending weddings, drinking roadside sugarcane juice, and buying mandi vegetables, as they seek to portray their connection to the common man

April 18, 2024 08:59 pm | Updated 08:59 pm IST - GURUGRAM

In a video on X on April 17, 2024, BJP’s Kurukshetra candidate Naveen Jindal, surrounded by his followers and spectators, can be seen lifting a sack of grain and carefully treading on a wooden plank placed on an incline to a truck.

In a video on X on April 17, 2024, BJP’s Kurukshetra candidate Naveen Jindal, surrounded by his followers and spectators, can be seen lifting a sack of grain and carefully treading on a wooden plank placed on an incline to a truck. | Photo Credit: X/@MPNaveenJindal

With the Lok Sabha poll campaign heating up in Haryana, which is slated to vote in the penultimate phase on May 25, politicians in the agrarian State are willing to walk the metaphorical extra mile — from lifting grain sacks to running a tea stall to shaking a leg — in a bid to woo the electorate.

In a 14-second video posted on X on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Kurukshetra candidate Naveen Jindal, who is the chairman of Jindal Steel and Power Limited, can be seen lifting a sack of grain on his back and carefully treading on a wooden plank placed on an incline to a truck surrounded by his followers and spectators. The camera follows the 54-year-old Chancellor of O. P. Jindal Global University as he finally manages to overturn the sack inside the truck and turns back, panting, to greet the crowd with folded hands amid loud cheers and slogans of “Naveen Jindal zindabad! (Long live Naveen Jindal!)”

The video has since gone viral with 1.23 lakh views, 1,700 likes, and 641 reposts. The 180 comments reflect mixed reactions, with one netizen commenting that politics makes people do strange things.

Common man connect

In another video, Mr. Jindal, donning saffron headgear, can be seen relishing seasonal sugarcane juice from a roadside vendor and paying through UPI to emphasise the growth of digital payments during the BJP-led government’s tenure. Another picture showing Mr. Jindal posing with farm labourers is captioned: “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas #Naveen Jindal”

Not to be left behind in the race to strike a chord with the common man, Aam Aadmi Party Haryana president and INDIA bloc candidate Sushil Gupta posted a video on X on Thursday showing him running a tea stall in Kurukshetra’s Shahbad mandi. Surrounded by his supporters, Mr. Gupta, a former Rajya Sabha MP, can be seen making and serving tea, with the post’s tagline reading: “Badlenge Kurukshetra, Badlenge Haryana (Will change Kurukshetra, will change Haryana)”.

In another picture, he can be seen buying vegetables from a vendor. “Bought cucumber from a shop in Shahbad Mandi and also enquired about the impact the government’s policies had on the business. Also enquired about the rates of the vegetables,” the post says.

Shaking a leg

Spread across the Kurukshetra, Kaithal, and Yamunanagar districts, the Kurukhetra Lok Sabha seat was held by the BJP’s Nayab Saini, who was appointed the Chief Minister in a recent reshuffle of the State Cabinet. Mr. Jindal quit the Congress to join the BJP just hours before the ruling party released the list naming him as its candidate from this Lok Sabha constituency. Pitched against Mr. Jindal and Mr. Gupta, the Indian National Lok Dal secretary general Abhay Chautala adds another dimension to the electoral contest for this seat, which borders Punjab and generated huge support for the farmers’ agitation.

In Hisar, the stage is set for an intra-family contest between various Chautalas. The Jannayak Janta Party’s candidate Naina Chautala, the mother of former Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, joined a group of women dancing to folk and devotional songs in Sector 13. Ms. Chautala, the first woman from the Chautala family to take the plunge into active politics, is credited with holding all-women public meetings called Hari Chunari Chaupals.

She is pitted against her father-in-law’s younger brother and BJP candidate Ranjit Singh Chautala, who resigned as an Independent MLA to join the ruling party, and her sister-in-law Sunaina Chautala, who is the INLD candidate. The sitting MP from Hisar, former bureaucrat Brijendra Singh, quit the BJP to join the Congress in March. The Congress, however, is yet to announce its candidates for the State.

In Sirsa, BJP candidate Ashok Tanwar, a former Haryana Congress president, did not miss the opportunity to visit and congratulate Komal Garg, a local girl who secured the 221st rank in the recent UPSC examination. Rohtak’s BJP candidate Arvind Sharma posted pictures of himself visiting a gaushala and attending weddings in his constituency.

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