The farmers have already staged several protests against the BJP-JJP leaders over the issue of three farm laws in an attempt to bring the issue to the centrestage in the bypoll.
As the campaigning for the October 30 bypolls to Ellenabad Assembly constituency enters the last lap, the voters in the majorly rural seat have filtered down the issues that matter – the ongoing farmers’ agitation, “possible use of cash to influence the vote”, and the caste equation.
The farmers have already staged several protests against the BJP-JJP leaders over the issue of three farm laws in an attempt to bring the issue to the centrestage in the bypoll. On Tuesday, a group of farmers carrying black flags in hands raised slogans when Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, who is from JJP, went to address a poll meeting in a village. The INLD candidate, Abhay Chautala, who had resigned from the Assembly in support of agitating farmers, necessitating the bypoll, says “farmer is a big issue in the election”.
But voters in the constituency seem more interested in talking about “who and when will distribute the money” while pointing out towards a candidate who is known for his recently added wealth. But many believe “the money at mass level is yet to be distributed”. Serious issues like inflation, employment and Covid-19 pandemic have taken a back seat for voters here.
On its part, the police have already seized little over Rs 27 lakh in cash in suspicion of its likley misuse during the ongoing poll process. Sirsa SP Arpit Jain told The Indian Express: “It’s matter of investigation for which purpose the recovered money was being transported”.
However, sources closely monitoring the election process indicate most of the seized money belong to people travelling to Haryana from Rajasthan “for domestic needs” adding “the money from big players belonging to mainstream parties is yet to be seized”.
Abhay Chautala alleges: “Sarkar bantegi paisa (The government will distribute money). But I won’t let it happen. They will also try to give the election a caste colour but won’t succeed.” The BJP-JJP leaders level similar allegations on Abhay Chautala.
In a recent complaint to the Chief Electoral Officer, the INLD accused BJP leader and former minister Krishan Lal Panwar of “trying to divide the society on caste lines’ ‘. The complaint reads: “.in Kagdana (village) rally he (Panwar) has raised a question that in this area votes of the schedule castes and the backward castes are more in comparison to others then why other person rules in the area…he has tried to add the colour of castiesm in election and tried to polarise votes on basis of castes.”
Terming the allegations baseless, Panwar says: “BJP works in an organisational manner and the party did not distribute any money to woo the voters. On my part, I did not make any casteist remarks. In a democracy, everybody has right to vote and the Dalit community too has this right. I just referred to the power of vote for awareness among the SC and BC communities. It is like telling the elephant about his power who is not aware of his strength.”
The Jats consist of nearly half of 1.86 lakh votes in the constituency. Abhay Chautala and Congress candidate Pawan Beniwal belong to Jat community while BJP’s Gobind Kanda is from Bania community.
Suraj Bhan, who belongs to the Dhanak community, is impressed with the development works carried out in their village and “donations” offered by a leader of the ruling party recently. Suraj Bhan says: “This leader has tried to help out the people in every possible manner. It may be a donation of Rs 50,000 for our dharamshala, installed poles for electricity supply and pumping out the flood waters from our village.”
The villagers say this leader also gave a donation of Rs 2.5 lakh donation for a gaushala. Reports of similar “donations” are pouring from other villages too.
BJP-JJP leaders deny any work is being carried out in violation of the model code of conduct. Meenu Beniwal, a close associate of JJP founder and Deputy CM Dushyan Chauatal’s father Ajay Chautala, says: “Such developmental works are being done by welfare organisations. There is not a single instance of violation of model code of conduct.”
Meanwhile, the Congress leaders have also intensified their campaign in support of party candidate Pawan Beniwal. On Monday, Deepender Singh Hooda and Haryana Congress incharge Vivek Bansal addressed public meetings in his support.
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