Hisar, Oct 12: With Anna Hazare factor looming large raising stakes for the ruling Congress, the stage is set for a triangular contest in the bypolls for Hisar Lok Sabha seat to be held tomorrow.
There has been a fortnight of frenzied campaigning as heavyweights find themselves locked in a keen contest, which has been overshadowed by Hazare's call to voters to shun the Congress and inflict a “historic defeat” for its failure to bring the Jan Lokpall Bill in Parliament.
Congress has fielded three-time MP from Hisar Jai Prakash. He is pitted against Haryana Janhit Congress' Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of late Chief Minister Bhajan Lal, and main opposition INLD's Ajay Singh Chautala, MLA from Dabwali and son of INLD President Om Prakash Chautala. The contituency has a voter strength of 13.32 lakh which includes 7.29 males.
Out of the 40 candidates in the contest, mainly independents, Bishnoi is the richest in the fray having declared assets worth Rs 48.85 crore while Ajay Chautala is at number two spot in terms of assets worth Rs 40.16 crore and Jai Prakash having assets worth Rs 3.16 crore, according to the Haryana Election Watch, an NGO.
For the first time, videography will be done at all the polling stations in Hisar, according to Haryana's Chief Electoral Officer, Sumita Misra.
She said that foolproof security arrangements have been made to ensure fair and free elections with 40 companies (4,000 personnel) of central forces being deployed in addition to the police force spread across 1506 polling booths, out of which 339 have been declared as ‘hyper sensitive' and 387 others as ‘sensitive'.
The results of the bypolls, which certain Anna team members and opposition parties have been claiming will be a a “turning point” in country's politics, would be declared on October 17.
The high-pitched campaign that came to an end last evening was dominated by wranglings between the Congress party and Team Anna, spearheading the anti-corruption campaign in the country.
Hazare's associates, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi, Manish Sisodia and others criss-crossed the parliamentary constituency asking people not to vote for Congress prompting the ruling outfit leaders to launch counter attacks, dubbing them as agents of opposition “trying to grind their own axe in the guise of fighting graft”.
Congress leaders have sought to put up a brave front dismissing that the Anna factor would have any adverse impact on their candidate's poll prospects and exuded confidence that people will vote for development.
Apart from the Anna factor, Congress also has to deal with the problem of internal bickering within the state unit. Congress General Secretary Birender Singh, who has earlier represented this Lok Sabha constituency and wields influence in his hometown Uchana, part of Hisar constituency, has stayed away from the campaigning which for the ruling party has centred around Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
He and another known Hooda detractor and Haryana Minister Kiran Chowdhry were also conspicuous by their absence at a party rally here on Monday organised for Congress candidate Jai Prakash, which besides the Haryana Chief Minister was attended by Chief Ministers of Delhi and Rajasthan, many party MPs, MLAs and Union Minister Kumari Selja.
In 2009 Parliamentary polls, Congress had won nine out ten Lok Sabha seats in Haryana barring Hisar, which was then won by HJC's Bhajan Lal, whose death in June necessitated the bypolls.
Bhajan Lal was a former Congressman and Bishnoi too earlier was a Congress MP from Bhiwani, but they floated their own party HJC in 2007 after Hooda, then MP from Rohtak, was handpicked by the party high command and named Chief Minister after party's resounding victory in the 2005 assembly polls. PTI