Triangular contest: Industrialist Jindal faces big fight in Kurukshetra LS seat

PTI, May 22, 2024, 11:36 AM IST

Kurukshetra: A closely fought three-way battle between tycoon Naveen Jindal of the BJP, Sushil Gupta of the AAP and a scion of the influential Chautala family – Abhay Singh Chautala – is on the cards in the Kurukshetra Lok Sabha seat in Haryana.

Entering the poll fray after a decade, industrialist-politician Jindal, who is eyeing his third win from Kurukshetra, says he wants to transform the constituency with great historical and religious importance into a spiritual hub.

Jindal’s rivals are not political lightweights by any means.

Indian National Lok Dal’s Secretary General and party’s lone MLA Chautala and Aam Aadmi Party’s Haryana unit president Gupta are also in the fray.

At 31, the Kurukshetra seat has the maximum number of candidates out of the 10 constituencies in the state.

Gupta and Jindal are among the richest candidates in phase 6 of the Lok Sabha polls scheduled for May 25.

AAP, a constituent of the opposition’s INDIA bloc, is fighting the Kurukshetra seat while the remaining nine are being contested by the Congress.

Jindal switched from Congress to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in March. While in Congress, he represented Kurukshetra between 2004-2014. His late father and noted industrialist O P Jindal has also represented Kurukshetra earlier.

The BJP is now looking for its third straight win from here after having won the seat on two consecutive occasions, including in 2014 when Jindal, then in the Congress, had lost.

The outgoing MP in the Lok Sabha from Kurukshetra is Nayab Singh Saini who had replaced M L Khattar as the Haryana chief minister in March and is now contesting the Karnal assembly bypolls on May 25, the day when voting for all the 10 Lok Sabha seats will be held.

This is the first time that the BJP has not fielded a candidate from the Other Backward Classes (OBC) from the seat.

During campaigning, the opposition candidates are prominently raising the farmers’ issues as well as other issues like ‘”rising” inflation and unemployment to take on the BJP.

Kurukshetra, about 150 km from Delhi, is a place of great historical and religious importance and it was here that the battle of Mahabharat was fought.

Speaking to PTI recently, Jindal said he dreams of making Kurukshetra among the most developed constituencies in the country.

Jindal said the constituency is not new for him and he has been getting a lot of love and support from the public.

He said Haryana has benefited because of the double-engine government of the BJP and asserted that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done a lot of work in the last 10 years and he has a vision to take the country forward.

Jindal, the chairman of Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL), declared his and his wife Shallu’s movable and immovable assets at about Rs 1,000 crore. He is also the founder of the Flag Foundation of India and conceived the idea of monumental flagpoles in 2009.

The BJP candidate last week released a vision document sharing his plans for developing Kurukshetra. He promised to give a spiritual and religious identity to Kurukshetra on the world stage.

Targeting his BJP rival, Gupta said, “I want to ask him what major developmental projects he brought in Kurukshetra as MP earlier (2004-2014). The BJP used to rake up coal scam charges against him, but now they are silent on this”.

“Unemployment, inflation, farmers and women issues are the dominant issues in the constituency. People want a change this time. People are also angry that the BJP government in the state used lathis when any section – be it farmers, sarpanches, employees — raised their voice against them,” Gupta told PTI.

The AAP candidate, with declared assets worth Rs 169.57 crore, received a boost as Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is currently out on interim bail, campaigned in the constituency this week. Congress leaders have also campaigned for Gupta.

“As I have said earlier, a dharam yudh (war in the defence of righteousness) will be fought here. It will be against corruption, against what BJP did with farmers, against drug menace,” Gupta said.

“We talk of good governance, we talk of good education, building good hospitals and better healthcare,” he added.

INLD’s Chautala, who has the support of farmer leader Gurnam Singh Charuni, claimed that various sections of society are fed up with the BJP governments at the Centre and in Haryana.

“What is the condition of farmers today? They made tall promises to them but even after 700 people sacrificed their lives during the farmers’ agitation at Delhi’s borders (against now repealed farm laws), the government continues to betray them,” said Chautala.

On the split between the BJP and the JJP in the state, Chautala said, “For four-and-a-half years, both enjoyed fruits of power and looted the state. So many scams took place in the state when they were together, now they cannot do this drama of separating and throwing dust in people’s eyes”.

In the Kurukshetra Lok Sabha constituency, there are 9,38,029 male voters, 8,50,439 female voters, and 23 transgender voters. The voters include a sizable chunk of voters of the Jat community.

Kurukshetra parliamentary seat covers the entire Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts and parts of Yamunanagar district. Kaithal and Kurukshetra both share their borders with Punjab.

Of the nine Assembly segments falling under the Kurukshetra seat, in the last assembly election BJP had won four, BJP’s erstwhile ally JJP had won two seats, Congress two and Independent had won one.

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