Clash of clans dominates Hisar, real issues sidelined

The election campaign in the epicentre of Jat politics in Hisar, for now, appears bereft of real issues concerning people. PTI file photo

A challenging contest is underway in Jat-dominated Hisar Lok Sabha constituency, about 170-km from the national capital, where stakes go beyond the outcome of the election result. The electoral battleground is poised for a clash of clans.

Amid strong caste polarisation, candidates of mainstream parties are slogging hard to expand their family legacy. Former deputy prime minister Devi Lal’s great grandson Dushyant Chautala of the newly formed Janata Jannayak Party (JJP) is pitted against BJP’s Bijender Singh, former IAS officer and great grandson of acclaimed farmer leader Sir Chotu Ram. The former bureaucrat is the son of Union minister in Modi’s cabinet Chaudhary Birender Singh.

26-year-old Bhavya Bishnoi, the grandson of former Haryana CM Bhajan Lal, is also out in the battlefield. He could be the youngest in the fray.

In a no-holds barred contest in this epicentre of Jat politics, a common threat binds the three top contenders: All are political dynasts with foreign degrees. The caste composition here determines much of the political strategy and narrative. The prominent Jat community constitutes nearly 33% of the vote share in Hisar Lok Sabha constituency, followed by others.  

Dushyant Chautala, who is the sitting MP from Hisar, belongs to the Jat community, so does Bijender Singh. Congress’s Bhavya is a non-Jat from the Bishnoi clan. The Congress is banking on polarisation of non-Jat votes, a strategy that BJP has employed in Haryana under Khattar as chief minister.

Major chunk of Jat vote is likely to be split between JJP, INLD and the BJP, political analyst and former Director Prosecution (Haryana) Hans Raj Bishnoi told DH. He maintained that with the Congress fielding a non-Jat candidate, the BJP's hopes of polarising non-Jat votes may not see much impact.

"The BJP wants to divide on caste and religious lines to defect attention from real issues," Bhavya said. This time, Dushyant does not have the support of his grandfather and jailed former CM OP Chautala of the INLD, which has fielded Suresh Koth as its nominee. The party was split owing to a family feud.

Campaign devoid of real issues

The election campaign in Hisar, for now, appears bereft of real issues concerning people. The BJP is seeking votes, like in other parts of the state, in the name of Prime Minister Modi and its bureaucrat-turned neta candidate’s political legacy.

Modi remains the overwhelming narrative. The devout Modi fans are out in hordes giving this constituency a ‘masculine’ narrative surrounding hyper-nationalism in the backdrop of the surgical strike. The ‘return of Modi’ to power in 2019 is the saffron party’s determining description in Jatland, which in a way has managed to supersede much of the alleged failures of the incumbent saffron party regime in Haryana under M L Khattar as chief minister.

The caste alignment will underline the outcome of the elections in this high-stake constituency. But amid BJP’s Modi chant in Jatland, the adversaries have found renewed vigour to drub the saffron party on its failed promises.

Hisar-based 23-year-old Tushar Sharma in hospitality trade talking to DH asks where the 2 crore jobs are. “I have a degree in hotel management from Chandigarh. I could not get a job for years. I had to return to Hisar where I managed a work at Rs 15,000 a month in a hotel,” Tushar said.

Youngsters like Tushar question the entry of rookies like Congress candidate Bhavya Bishnoi in poll fray from Hisar. “His only qualification is that he is the grandson of Bhajan Lal and son of MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi. He wound not know the names of villages in Hisar”, Sharma maintained. The BJP is not talking of demonetisation or GST, instead, it’s the opposition parties who are going to town citing such ‘misfired’ policy decisions that cost the common man.

While political legacy remains a poll plank, the violent Jat quota agitation that epitomised the worst breakdown of law and order in Jat-dominated areas for nearly a week not talked about much. Poor infrastructure, deteriorating healthcare, rupturing government education set ups etc do not get much attention in the poll pitches raised by leaders.

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