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Jind verdict: BJP wins big in Jatland, JJP proves a point as split-hit INLD fades

The Congress’s show in the bypoll has punctured the party’s claim as the only alternative to BJP, and also dented Randeep Surjewala’s prospects to be the party’s chief ministerial candidate in the Haryana Assembly polls scheduled to be held later this year

Ranjeet Jamwal | Jind |

BJP candidate Krishan Middha (48) defeated his nearest rival and Jananayak Janata Party (JJP) candidate Digvijay Singh Chautala (27) — who contested as independent candidate as JJP is yet to be registered — by 12,935 votes in the Jind bypoll conducted earlier last month. The Jind verdict comes as a major boost for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of Lok Sabha elections and also the Haryana Assembly polls scheduled to be held later this year.

JJP was floated in December 2018 by Lok Sabha member from Hisar, Dushyant Chautala after a split in the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) following a feud in the Chautala clan.

Digvijay polled 37,631 while the Congress candidate Randeep Singh Surjewala came a distant third with 22,740 votes. The BJP’s rebel Kurukshtra member of Parliament Raj Kumar Saini ‘s newly formed Loktrantra Suraksha Party (LSP) came fourth with 13,582 votes.

The main Opposition party in the state, INLD faced embarrassment with party candidate Umed Singh polling just 3454 votes despite the Om Prakash Chautala-led party’s alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which had polled 13,225 votes in 2014 Assembly polls. This was despite INLD holding the Jind seat in two consecutive Assembly polls.

The seat fell vacant when sitting INLD legislator Hari Chand Middha, who won from Jind twice, passed away in August 2018. The BJP managed to make Middha`s son, Krishan Middha, a BAMS doctor, join the saffron party and field him as its candidate.

The BJP victory will boost the chances of the ruling party returning to power in the state. In 2014 Assembly polls, the BJP formed its first ever government in Haryana as non-Jat voters swung the balance in its favour.

And the trend appears to be continuing as Jind by-poll saw division of votes in Jatland of Haryana amongst three Jat candidates (JJP, Congress and INLD) even as BJP candidate Midha, a Punjabi, swept the poll with apparent consolidation of non-Jat communities in saffron party’s favour.

In indication of the ruling party’s dominance in the constituency won by the BJP for the first time since the formation of Haryana, the saffron party remained in lead from the fourth round of counting. The party managed win in urban areas of the constituency with lesser Jat community population.

To the INLD’s disappointment, the JJP appears emerged victorious in the battle for claim over the legacy of INLD founder and former former Deputy Prime Minister, Chaudhary Devi Lal. The JJP candidate Digvijay is the great grandson of Devi Lal and younger son of INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala’s elder son Ajay Singh Chautala who along with his two sons (Dushyant and Digvijay) were expelled from the party for their alleged anti-party activities late last year. Therefore, both the INLD and the JJP were out to prove their supremacy in this by-poll seen as “semi-final” ahead of general elections and it’s the JJP which has emerged winner in this battle.

The Congress’s show in the bypoll has also punctured the party’s claim as the only alternative to BJP and also dented Surjewala’s prospects to be the party’s chief ministerial candidate as compared to the two-time former CM, Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

“This by-poll has made it clear that JJP is the only alternative to the BJP. The Congress lost its votes to the BJP all over the constituency,” Digvijay said.

Congress leader Hooda, however, attributed the BJP victory the trend of the ruling party winning bypolls. “This seat (Jind) was not a Congress stronghold. But the BJP’s winning margin also raises suspicion over the credibility of electronic voting machines (EVMs),” he said.