BHIWANI/HISAR: Even after his five-year rule at the Centre, Prime Minister Narendra Modi still seems to be a strong force for many voters in Bhiwani-Mahendragarh and Hisar, two of the 10 Lok Sabha constituencies in Haryana going to the polls on May 12. But there are also those who feel his government could have done more.
"We are not voting for any other candidate. We will vote for Modi," said Ramesh Kalra, a resident of Kharkala village in Bhiwani.
Citing his reasons for backing Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Kalra said: "Modi has taken strong decisions for the country. Our forces are now giving a befitting reply to Pakistan."
When asked if sitting BJP MP from Bhiwani Dharambir Singh had done any work in his constituency, Kalra said: "Earlier there wasn't any highway here. But under the Modi government, a four-lane highway connecting Bhiwani with Rohtak has been built."
Kharkala village is situated between Rohtak and Bhiwani and it is dominated by the upper castes comprising Rajputs and Brahmins.
"Now gas cylinders are available for us. Earlier we had to wait for months to get the cylinders refilled, but under the present government we get them filled easily within a day," Kalra said.
However, not everyone in the constituency is happy with the Modi government.
Rajesh Kumar, a former pramukh of Vidya Nagar, Bhiwani, said: "Villagers and farmers are angry with the BJP and Modi. The 2016 Jat agitation too has put the BJP on the backfoot here."
He also alleged that the Modi government had divided the 36 castes of Haryana and even the girls in Bhiwani were not getting admission in colleges.
"(Chief Minister Manohar Lal) Khattar had announced to build a girls school in Bhiwani but he has not kept his promise. On the other hand, 1,592 government schools were either closed or merged with smaller schools across the state.
"Even the combined graduate level examination for employment closed in the state, which has led to higher unemployment," he said.
BJP's Dharambir Singh, who is seeking re-election from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh, is pitted against Congress' Shruti Chowdhary, Jannayak Janata Party's (JJP) Swati Yadav and Balwan Singh Fauji of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
The Bhiwani-Mahendragarh Lok Sabh constituency was created in 2008 by merging the four Assembly segments of Ateli, Mahendragarh, Narnaul and Nangal Chaudhry of the erstwhile Mahendragarh constituency and five Assembly segments of Loharu, Badhra, Dadri, Bhiwani and Tosham of the former Bhiwani and Charkhi Dadri seats.
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The seat covers a major part of Bhiwani and the entire Mahendragarh district. According to the locals, the Jats and Muslims form a sizeable population in these two districts.
Out of the 12 lakh voters in the constituency, around 4 lakh are Jats, 3.5 lakh Yadavs and 1.2 lakh each Rajputs and Punjabis.
Shruti Choudhary had won the first Lok Sabha elections held in the constituency in 2009 by defeating INLD leader Ajay Singh Chautala. She is the daughter of late Surender Singh of the Haryana Vikas Party which was founded by former Chief Minister Bansi Lal Legha.
Sandeep Sangwan, a resident of Rajiv colony in Bhiwani, said that the fight here was directly between the BJP and the Congress.
He said that in the beginning it seemed that JJP's Swati Yadav would complicate things here, but she has not lived up to the expectations.
Mahendra Singh, a resident of Huda Sector 13 in Bhiwani, said that the voters here earlier favoured Ajay Chautala's family. He also said that the JJP would have got the Jat votes had the party fielded any of the Chautala family members from here. "But now the Congress will get the Jat votes while the BJP will get the non-Jat votes."
The residents of Bhiwani also said that development, roads, employment and women's safety were the important issues in this constituency.
Rajesh, a resident of Bharatnagar in Bhiwani, accused the BJP of dividing the people in the name of caste. "People of all religions and castes stay here. But they (BJP) have divided the society."
In the Hisar parliamentary constituency, JJP's Dushyant Chautala, son of Ajay Chautala, is seeking re-election after winning from here in 2014 on INLD ticket. He is up against the BJP's Brijendra Singh and the Congress' Bhavya Bishnoi.
While Brijendra Singh is a former IAS officer and son of Union Steel Minister Birender Singh, Dushyant Chautala is the grandson of former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and the great-grandson of late Deputy Prime Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal.
In 2014, Dushyant Chautala had defeated Kuldeep Bishnoi of the now defunct Haryana Janhit Congress party.
Hisar is predominantly a Jat stronghold, where the community constitutes nearly 33 per cent of the total 16 lakh electors, ahead of the Bishnois.
Sanwar Mal, a resident of Bhojraj village in Hisar, said: "The Modi wave is still here in Hisar, but Dushyant Chautala is also giving a tough fight."
He also said that a decisive leadership was the main issue this time.
Gyan Singh from Shantinagar in Hisar said: "The roads in Hisar are in a very bad shape and we want the parties to focus on this." However, he added that the people wanted to see Modi at the Centre again.
Sri Chand, however, said that Dushyant Chautala had done a lot of work in the constituency. "But people have the impression that even if Dushyant wins, he won't be able to do much for Hisar as his party won't be there in power at the Centre."