ROHTAK: As the election campaign in Rohtak reaches in its final stage the people of this parliamentary constituency, which has been represented for long by both former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son Deepender, feel that votes in this election will be divided on the lines of the 2016 Jat agitation.
Deepender Hooda, who is re-contesting from Rohtak for the fourth consecutive time, has won the Lok Sabha election from here since 2004 after his father Bhupinder Singh Hooda was made the Chief Minister of the state.
Deepender Hooda is pitted against the BJP candidate and Congress turncoat Arvind Sharma, who joined the party ahead of the elections.
People in Rohtak says that the campaigning for the elections this time is primarilry focused on Jats and non-Jats and the 35 other 'biradaris' (castes), who account for over 30 per cent of the 16 lakh voters in the district.
The BJP has raked up the issue of decisive governance under Prime Minister Narendra Modi as against the lack of a prime ministerial candidate among the Congress and other opposition parties.
Jagdish Malik, a resident of DLF colony here told IANS that "the talks of Jat and non-Jats has gained momentum after the Jat agitation in February 2016."
Birendra Kumar, a resident of Jhajjar road, said: "We cannot forget the February 2016 Jat agitation when we saw many people armed with guns and knives coming on vehicles and going around damaging property and robbing shops."
When asked whethere any development work has been carried out in the district, he said: "Deepender and his father have done a lot of work in Rohtak. And that is visible, but the people are annoyed with the parties due to the Jat agitation."
While people here deny any anti-incumbency wave against Deepender Hooda, they do blame him and his father for not doing enough to prevent the mayhem during the Jat agitation.
While campaigning in his constituency, Deepender Hooda has talked mostly about rebuilding in the district the social coalition of different caste groups, which was disrupted after the mayhem of 2016.
On the other hand, the BJP has blamed the Congress for instigating the Jats to destabilise the Manohar Lal Khattar government in the state through the Jat agitation.
The Congress has ruled Rohtak for decades and is considered a fort of the Hooda family. The Hooda's have nurtured the constituency during the Congress' 10-year rule in the state, until 2014. But the party now faces its stiffest challenge of saving its fort.
Congress Genral Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also held a road show in the town on Tuesday in support of Deepender Hooda.
Kapil Gulati, a resident of HUDA complex in Rohtak said: "The local issues of the town are also important...issues like water scarcity and the law and order situation."
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Gulati said: "Nowadays, chain snatching has become rampant in the town and the female members of the house do not go out in the market when it's dark."
Asked who is his favourite candidate in the elections, he said: "No doubt Deepender is our favorite as he is a local boy and he is avialble whenever it's required...while no one knows from where Arvind Sharma has came from."
Kishan Lal, a resident of Gandhi camp in Rohtak said: "Deepender has represented Rohtak thrice. This is the fourth time he is contesting from Rohtak. But this time it shall be Jat and non-Jat vote."
"Now, people look at Modi for his bold decision to attack Pakistan after the Pulwama suicide bombing. And this factor has changed the mind of many people here and, thus, I feel that it will have its affect in this election," he added.
Even during the 2014 Modi wave, when the BJP swept the entire north, Deepender Hooda however, managed to retained his seat.
Voting in Rohtak is scheduled for the sixth phase on May 12. Counting of votes is on May 23.