BJP-JJP’s Dutt, Cong’s Narwal in direct combat

Geetanjali Gayatri

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 1

The Bharatiya Janata Party-Jannayak Janta Party (BJP-JJP) alliance and the Congress are locked in a direct contest in the Baroda bypoll for which the campaigning ended today. The voting for the Assembly seat will be held on November 3 while the counting is scheduled for November 10.

While the BJP-JJP combine made all its leaders aggressively campaign for wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, the father-son duo of Congress Legislature Party leader Bhupinder Singh Hooda and MP son Deepender Hooda were seen in a combative mode in a constituency that lies in their pocket borough as they canvassed for Induraj Narwal.

With Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar out in the field, Deputy CM and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala making it to the constituency towards the end of the campaigning and all top leaders practically camping in Baroda, the BJP’s strategy was exhaustive and revolved around man-to-man marking to target votes and attack the CLP leader.

The Congress, which has tried its best to use the anti-farmer sentiment to its advantage, too went right down to the booth level to reach out to the voters. The Hoodas took charge while other senior leaders, including state Congress chief Selja and party MLAs, raised the pitch against the ruling alliance on the lack of agenda for development in the area. While the two parties tried to outdo each other over micro-planning, using various digital platforms to target the voters, this election, just like the state politics, is divided along the Jat versus non-Jat lines with a couple of “spoilers” thrown in to keep the contest alive.

The Indian National Lok Dal, a shadow of its previous self after the JJP broke away and formed a new independent outfit, fielded a Jat candidate. The more votes the party will secure, the greater damage it will do to the Congress, which has also fielded a Jat. The dent in the BJP vote bank will come from the votes the Loktantra Suraksha Party candidate Raj Kumar Saini can pull. Though these parties are nowhere in the contest between the BJP-JJP and the Congress, they can spoil the party for the two top contenders in the election.

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