Other States

Shadow of farmers’ stir over bypoll

With just four days to go for the Ellenabad by-election in Sirsa district, the stage is all set for a second round of electoral battle in Haryana, less than 12 months after the Baroda bypoll last year.

Being held under the shadow of the ongoing farmers’ agitation, the bypoll to the predominantly rural constituency — 178 of the total 211 booths in the Assembly segment are rural — could be an indicator of the mood of the agrarian population in the State. Besides hinting the long-term political implications of the farmers’ movement for various political outfits, especially the ruling coalition, in the State, the election will also be a battle of political relevance for the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

Necessitated due to the resignation of INLD’s lone MLA Abhay Singh Chautala in support of the farmers’ agitation in January this year, the by-election is scheduled for October 30 with 19 candidates, including 12 Independents, in the fray.

However, the contest is largely believed to be triangular with Abhay Chautala having an edge over Congress’ Pawan Beniwal and Bharatiya Janata Party’s Gobind Kanda.

“Mr. Chautala had resigned in support of the farmers’ demand for withdrawal of the three laws and agreed to recontest the election at the insistence of his supporters. His victory will be the victory for the farmers and their movement,” said INLD spokesperson Rakesh Sihag.

The party also banks on the charisma of its patriarch Om Prakash Chautala, released from the jail in July this year on completion of his sentence in a teachers’ recruitment scam. The Congress and the BJP-Jannayak Janta Party (BJP-JJP) coalition have preferred turncoats over their own cadres for the bypoll. Congress’ nominee Pawan Beniwal, who jumped the ship from the BJP recently, has been the runner-up from Ellenabad segment on the previous two occasions.

His nomination has not gone down well with the party’s old guards Bharat Singh Beniwal and Ramesh Bhadu, who joined the BJP a few days after the announcement.

Division of Jat votes

Hoping for a division of Jat votes — the constituency has around 35% Jat voters — the BJP has fielded Gobind Kanda, elder brother of Sirsa MLA and Haryana Lokhit Party founder Gopal Kanda, as the alliance candidate.

While the Congress seeks votes accusing the ruling coalition of misrule and its failure to find a solution to the farmers’ agitation, the BJP-JJP talks about overall development of the State under the leadership of Manohar Lal.

However, both parties blame Abhay Singh Chautala for imposing the bypoll by first resigning and then seeking re-election from the same constituency.

The Samyukt Kisan Morcha leaders will also hold two public meetings in Ellenabad on Wednesday to oppose the BJP-JJP candidate, who is facing the ire of the farming community in many villages.

Waterlogging on agricultural land in a dozen villages, lack of cotton industry and scarcity of drinking water are some of the major issues of the constituency.

“Ellenabad has been the fortress of the Chautalas for long. It should be a smooth sailing for Abhay Chautala considering that the support base for the JJP has drifted towards the INLD after the farmers’ agitation. The farmers’ anger too will reflect in the results and they would support Abhay for resigning on farm laws’ issues. With Chautala, a Jat, enjoying huge popularity among his community, it might prevent considerable split of Jat votes between him and the Congress nominee, also a Jat. In that scenario, the prospects of the BJP-JJP candidate, a non-Jat, will be harmed,” said Rajendra Sharma, Professor, Political Science, MDU.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 9:23:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/shadow-of-farmers-stir-over-bypoll/article37182286.ece

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