On a hat-trick, Jindal faces toughest test

On a hat-trick, Jindal faces toughest test

Kurukshetra in Haryana, made famous by the epic ‘Mahabharata’, is proving to be tough to retain for industrialist and Congress MP Naveen Jindal.

 Billboards with Jindal dot the constituency, announcing that ‘he’s on a hat trick’, poised to win his third consecutive term as MP from Kurukshetra. But in this election, Jindal cannot rest on his past triumphs. He is facing charges of corruption in the coal block allocation scandal.

Recently Jindal offered a donation to a temple he visited during his campaign. An onlooker heckled Jindal, saying he should probably to offer more money due to the MP’s alleged benefits from the the coal scam. Jindal didn’t react. But it was evident that the allegations have hurt his reputation and might be a factor when Haryana votes on
April 10.

Jindal’s credentials as a businessman are well known. He is one the richer candidates in the fray having declared assets of about Rs 300 crore.

His mother Savitri Jindal, a minister in Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda’s cabinet, is one of the two richest women in the country featuring in the list of 56 richest Indians released by Forbes this year.

But in the constituency, Jindal’s super cash-rich status is not is his primary introduction. People see him as a soft spoken politician who has worked extensively in the area and even delivered on many fronts.

The NGO he runs in Haryana - providing medical aid, blood donation camps, free spectacles etc to the have-nots - makes sure the family’s good samaritan status endures, according to Dr Subash Sharma, a senior Congress leader from Kurukshetra who spoke to Deccan Herald. Congress leaders believe Kurukshetra is one of the few seats in the list of probable wins from Haryana.

The Jindal campaign flaunts good work delivered by the UPA government during its 10 year term, including food security and RTI. But just like the UPA-II, Jindal too is battling a decade of anti-incumbency.

His voters, including many senior citizens in Ujhana village where Jindal campaigned on Thursday, expect him to have done more with his MP local area development funds.
Students in Kurukshetra University spoke about inflation, price rise, corruption, Modi and even the Aam Aadmi Party.

“The good thing is people are pondering over options to vote,” said Balwinder Kaur, a former professor at the university and a candidate of the AAP. She hopes to garner major support from farmers. Her husband Gurnam Singh Chaduni is a top leader of the Bhartiya Kisan Union and an activist.

Jindal’s opponent, Raj Kumar Saini of the BJP, is a former minister and also an industrialist. He has recently been party hopping to try and ride high on a ‘Modi wave’.