CHANDIGARH: The local issues seem to have taken a back seat this poll season in Haryana's Ambala, Kurukshetra and Karnal seats as the major political parties are busy seeking votes on national issues. While the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is seeking votes on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name, the Congress is criticizing demonetisation and GST.
The BJP's chances of retaining the Kurukshetra seat looks slim as the party is facing backlash due to the sitting MP Raj Kumar Saini's comments on the Jat quota agitation. Despite the presence of four lakh Jat voters in the constituency, the BJP is banking on four lakh OBC, two lakh Dait, 1.5 lakh Brahmin and One lakh Punjabi voters. Interestingly, the voters from this constituency have never sent a Jat person to the parliament, which is why the saffron party has once again given the ticket to Nayab Saini, a Saini from the OBC community.
Similar to all the BJP candidates, Saini too has been seeking votes in the name of Modi and on the issue of national security and on the other hand Nirmal Singh, the Congress candidate is raking up GST and demonetisation to point out alleged failures of the Modi government. Singh also alleged that the BJP government has done nothing for the people and is capitalising on Army's valour.
However, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) candidate Arjun Chuatala, the great-grandson of former deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal has been making an emotional pitch.
In the neighbouring constituency of Ambala, a Jat-dominated seat, reserved for scheduled castes, has always witnessed a direct contest between the Congress and BJP since 1967. The Congress had won this seat ten times since 1952 and BJP four times. Kumari Selja, the Congress candidate defeated Rattan Lal Kataria of BJP twice in 2004 and 2009 but in 2014 Kataria finally won. In 1998 this seat was won by Aman Kumar Nagra of BSP, the only non-Congress and non-BJP candidate to win from here.
Due to the caste combination, the saffron party has always had an advantage besides 45 per cent scheduled cate voters, Jats, Rajput, Punjabis, Sikhs, Bhramin have also the same percentile of votes.
Besides Kataria and Selja, Rampal Balmiki of INLD, Prithvi Raj Singh of AAP and Naresh Saran of BSP are also in the fray.
In Karnal, it's a two-way fight between the BJP and Congress. BJP's Sanjay Bhatia, a close confidant of Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar is pitted against Congress' Kuldeep Sharma, former state assembly speaker and confidant of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
Bhatia has replaced Ashwani Chopra, the sitting BJP MP from here as Chopra was vocal against the party leadership. Bhatia too is making an emotional appeal and seeking votes based on Modi's "clean image". There are 1.70 lakh Jat voters which Sharma is trying to woo them using the Hooda connection, while Bhatia in his speeches said that the country is safe in the hands of Modi. Krishan Kumar Aggarwal of AAP-JJP, Dharamvir Padha of INLD, Pankaj of BSP-LSP are also in the fray.
Number of Voters