Haryana’s love for Independent candidates on display

For the Pundri electorate, independent candidates are better performers than candidates of mainstream parties, who often fail to live up to people's expectations. (PTI File Photo for Representation)

The non-discrete township of Pundri, in Haryana’s Kaithal, is a segment where leaders of even mainstream parties hesitate to contest elections. This aversion is not due to superstition but because over the last 24-years, this seat and several other Assembly elections have always been won by Independent candidates.

The Congress, BJP or the INLD can only dream of winning this seat. For the Pundri electorate, independent candidates are better performers than candidates of mainstream parties, who often fail to live up to people's expectations.

In fact, the electorate in Haryana has a penchant for Independent candidates. According to sources, independent candidates manage to mop up a tidy 10% of total votes, which makes them decisive in government formation.

Empirical data also shows that Independents have turned out to be the king-makers post elections, helping bail out parties struggling to muster numbers to form the government. In the process, these candidates have managed to secure coveted posts like that of chief parliamentary secretaries (CPS) as a quid pro quo.

A striking case of Independents calling the shots occurred at the end of Assembly elections in 2009, when the Congress emerged as the single largest party, with 40 seats in a house of 90.

As many as 8 Independents had won the seats in that election, and the Congress' Bhupinder Singh Hooda desperately needed their support to enjoy a second term in office. Hooda secured their support to seamlessly complete his second term until 2014, in return for which many of these independents were made ministers..

In 1967 and 1982, 16 independents won the Assembly elections. In 1982, the 16 independent winners played a pivotal role in government formation. The Congress, under Bhajan Lal, was in a minority but had smooth sailing, after the 16 MLAs extended their support to the Congress.

This time around, nearly 45% of candidates in poll fray for the October 21 polls are contesting as independents, which is sure to affect the elections. 

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