Haryana kick-starts an early race for 2019 Assembly polls

The Haryana Assembly election which is still 15 months away has prompted political parties to leave no stone unturned to woo the voters through mega rallies, yatras and other public participation programmes, writes Rajendra Khatry

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The Assembly elections in Haryana are still 15 months away. Even parliamentary polls will be held in next year, but opposition parties, as well as the ruling BJP, are gearing up with rallies, yatras and other public programmes with such an urgency as if the polls are round the corner.

All political parties in Haryana seem to be in the poll mode already now. Prominent Congress leaders in the state, former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana Congress president Ashok Tanwar and former state minister Randeep Singh Surjewala are holding separate rallies and programmes despite the scorching heat of the summer.

On the other hand, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) led by Leader of Opposition in Haryana, Abhay Chautala is carrying out a ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’ for the past few months over the issue of procuring SYL canal water for Haryana. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also launched a ‘Haryana Jodo’ campaign. Even the ruling BJP has been carrying our programmes like ‘Roadshows’ and ‘Raahgiri’ in which the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was also present.

What’s interesting is the fact that all the political leaders have no compunction in admitting that they are carrying out these programmes for the sake of winning elections next year in the state. Former Congress Chief Minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda has just completed the second round of the ‘Jan Kranti Rath Yatra’ in the state in which he toured Jind and Narwana. Hooda told to Tehelka, “This is a public contact programme and will continue to be held till the assembly elections in Haryana next year.’’

Addressing a public rally during his Rath Yatra, Hooda announced to waive off loans of farmers and poor people and increase old-age pension to 3000 if the Congress comes to power next year in Haryana assembly elections. Hooda is addressing rallies at several places during his yatra. During one such rally at Jind, Hooda announced several sops to the people, including pink ration cards for the poor and pension hike. “The BJP in Haryana has failed on all fronts. It is time now to throw out the anti-people, anti-farmer BJP government,’’ said Hooda.

Hooda said even during its last reign in Haryana, the Congress had waived off the loans of the farmers as well as the pending electricity bills of the farmers worth 1600 crore. The Congress under him had also removed the land auction policy of the farmers who failed to repay their loans. He said it is most unfortunate that farmers have been given notices for an auction of their lands. “Not an inch of the farmers land will be allowed to be auctioned,’’ challenged Hooda.

Hooda said it was most unfortunate that the government had failed to protect its regular employees appointed by the Congress government. Had the BJP government presented the case well in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the same employees would not have lost their jobs, he said. Hooda said the third phase of the Rath Yatra will begin from Mewat in June end. The fourth and fifth phase of the yatra will be held in July in Fatehabad and Yamunanagar.

Meanwhile, Ashok Tanwar, President, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC), has been carrying out his own ‘Haryana Bachao- Parivartan Lao Cycle Yatra’ in the state. Incidentally, Tanwar does not see eye to eye with Jat leader Hooda and never held programme together. He holds all the state Congress programmes separately. “Our yatra has become a mass movement in Haryana. We are getting huge support from the people.

Our yatra will continue right till the assembly elections in Haryana next year. We have to throw out the BJP government in Haryana under which people are suffering. The BJP and the INLD are damaging social fabric and fraternity in Haryana,’’ Ashok Tanwar told Tehelka. Tanwar criticised the Manohar Lal khattar government for not fighting properly the court case of regularisation of employees.

Talking to Tehelka while still riding his cycle in Sonepat at 45-degree hot afternoon, Tanwar said cycling the entire day on such hot and humid days is a very difficult proposition. “Mujhe aisa lagta hai jaise ki main murga hoon jise tandoor par latka diya gaya ho (I feel like a chicken sizzling on a tandoor). But, I am ready to undertake such tasks in the favour of the people. We are getting so much support from the public which will work in our favour in the next assembly elections,’’ he said.

Lashing out at the ‘Raahgiri’ and roadshow programme of the ruling BJP, Tanwar said the primary duty of the government is to govern, not hold roadshows. These will gain nothing for the BJP if they don’t work. He accused the INLD of being a ‘B’ team of the BJP.

Eyeing his chances, another senior Congress leader from Haryana, Randeep Singh Surjewala, AICC Media Communications incharge, is also trying to make his presence felt by holding public rallies on a regular basis. In the last four months, he has held as many as 66 rallies.

“Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has had four years of misgovernance. He has failed on every conceivable metric. BJP must go in the next poll,’’ said Surjewala.

The main opposition party in Haryana, INLD, has been carrying out a ‘Jail Bharo Andolan’ for the last few months on the issue of SYL canal water to pressure central government to complete the construction of the SYL canal in accordance with the directions of the SC to secure Haryana’s share of water from Ravi and Beas, completion of the Dadupur Nalvi canal by the Haryana government and also getting water from Agra canal for the Mewat region.

Last year INLD supremo and Leader of Opposition in Haryana, Abhay Chautala, was arrested when he forcibly tried to enter Punjab to dig the SYL canal for carrying water to Haryana. The INLD, which recently forged an alliance with the BSP, has been carrying its programme jointly with the party.

Not to be left behind in the race for power, the Aam AAdmi Party AAP) has launched ‘Haryana Jodo campaign’ from June 10. AAP’s supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced the mass contact campaign at a programme held at Kurukshetra on May 27. AAP president in Haryana, Naveen Jaihind and Panchkula district president Yogesh Sharma told the media in Chandigarh that resentment against the BJP is growing in Haryana day by day and people have started leaning towards AAP now.

Meanwhile, the ruling BJP in Haryana is depending upon ‘Raahgiri’ programme as well as road shows of the Chief minister in different places of the state to connect with the public. In the last 40 days, since April 22, as many as 55 Raahgiri events have been organised across the state.

The state authorities are happy that these government programmes have been drawing a terrific response from the people. As many as 1,06,650 people have already participated in it. On May 27, a record total of 28,300 persons participated in the ‘Raahgiri’ programme. Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was present in a few `Raahgiri’ programmes in Kurukshetra and Jind.

Talking to Tehelka, O P Singh, Special Officer in Chief Minister’s Office and in-charge of the Raahgiri programme said in last five weeks, every district administration except Nuh has successfully organised Raahgiri events where thousands of people participated enthusiastically.

The aim of this flagship community- connect programme is to offer people a platform for bonding, togetherness and healthy mass entertainment and to get the local performing artists a stage to showcase their talent, he said. The response has been tremendous, he said.

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