Chandigarh, Sep 27 : It will be a straight fight between the ruling BJP and the main opposition Congress for the 90-member Legislative Assembly in Haryana on October 21.
Political observers say the contest between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress is more or less one-sided as the former won all the 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state this year, a first in the state's electoral history.
The Congress is dithering over its chief ministerial candidate. The main contenders are newly-appointed Leader of Opposition and two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state Congress unit President and former Union Minister Kumari Selja, who is known in political circles for her proximity to the party's organisational leadership.
The BJP, which is in fray under the leadership of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, is also far ahead of its arch-rival as far as campaigning at the grassroots is concerned.
While first-time Chief Minister Khattar has already carried out a whirlwind tour of the state ahead of the announcement of poll dates, the Congress is just busy in setting its house in order and boosting the morale of its cadre.
As per the poll share in the Lok Sabha elections held in April-May, the BJP, which won all the 10 seats in the state, got the lead in 79 Assembly seats, the Congress in 10 and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), an Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) breakaway faction, in one seat.
Khattar's slogan 'Mission 75' has got louder after the party's stellar performance in the Lok Sabha polls.
In an obvious reference to the faction-ridden Congress and the mass exodus of leaders from the jailed Om Prakash Chautala-led INLD, Khattar said on the basis of development, the BJP would fulfil its resolution of winning '75 plus seats' in the Assembly polls.
However, Hooda, who was earlier upset with the party high command for not giving him the party's reins in the state, described Khattar's dispensation as a "government of scams".
"Both Selja-ji and I have travelled in all 10 parliamentary constituencies. We saw a lot of enthusiasm among the party workers, who were earlier demoralised, are now fully confident of returning to power," Hooda told IANS.
According to him, he is seeking votes on the basis of his 10-year stint (2004 to 2014) as the Chief Minister.
"At that time, farmers, government employees and the common man were happy. Now, the BJP government has failed miserably on all fronts. Farmers have not got MSP (minimum support price) for their produce, the government employees are on warpath," he said.
"You can see a huge unemployment. Law and order is deteriorating. I had fulfilled all promised made in our manifestos of 2004 and 2009. And now you take the BJP manifesto, not even a single promise has been fulfilled in its stint," a confident Hooda added.
Hitting back, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the issue of unemployment was being blown out of proportion by the opposition.
"There are about 80,000 graduates and postgraduates registered on the Saksham portal. There is a percentage of unemployed who are under matric, Class 10 or Class 12, but the number of unemployed is not that much," he told the media here.
He said on returning to power an independent 'manav sampada mantralaya', first time in the country, would be set up for optimum utilisation of human resources.
JJP leader and former MP, Dushyant Chautala, has announced its first list of seven candidates for the Assembly elections.
It has also announced 75 per cent reservation for state residents in government as well as private jobs, 10 grace marks in government recruitment examinations through Haryana Public Service Commission and Haryana Staff Selection Commission for students coming from villages and a government job in each household.
The AAP, which parted ways with the JJP, has released its first list of 22 candidates for Haryana.
The BJP's central election committee is expected to meet on September 29 to finalise its candidates for the elections, with the party deciding not to field family members of its sitting MPs and legislators.
However, the Congress is yet to set the time-frame for finalising the candidates.
In the 2014 Haryana Assembly polls, the BJP won the elections with 47 seats, while the INLD and Congress got 19 and 15 seats, respectively.
BJP's ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BSP won one seat each, while independents won five seats.
The voter turnout was 76.54 per cent, a state record.
The state will go to the polls in a single phase on October 21. The results will be declared on October 24.
(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at email@example.com)
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