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Over the last few weeks, one slogan has been thick in the air in Haryana’s Kurukshetra: “Naveen Jindal ko hat-trick lagavenge.” The two-time MP is seeking an unprecedented third term from the seat which hasn’t just been a Congress bastion but was also where his father, the late O.P. Jindal, had contested and won.
On paper, his opponents are formidable. The BJP’s Raj Kumar Saini is also an industrialist-politician while the inld’s Balbir Saini is a seasoned hand. The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) candidate, Balwinder Kaur, pales in contrast. But the Jindal camp is confident. They say the inld’s Saini last won an election in 1987 and the BJP candidate, new to the constituency, is banking on the Modi wave. In 2009, the BJP and inld had fielded a single candidate. As for the AAP candidate, many party members have protested the selection of Kaur, who is the wife of Bharatiya Kisan Union state president Gurnam Singh Chaduni.
Jindal is sticking to his development plank and showcases his work in education and health in the constituency. Jindal won by 1.18 lakh votes in 2009. His team says the margin will be bigger now. Some observers also believe that political parties have fielded rather weak candidates against Jindal, virtually ensuring his win. Outlook tried to talk to the BJP, the state’s new icon, Haryana Janhit Congress’s Kuldeep Bishnoi, and AAP’s Yogendra Yadav, but all of them shied away from commenting on Jindal and his campaign.
Of course, Jindal’s cordial relations with state CM B.S. Hooda is a big plus for him as is the fact that he is in Rahul Gandhi’s good books. This has ensured that prominent state political celebrities are doing field time for him. Thanks to the new Election Commission code, the campaign has been rather quiet this year. A three-car, 6-8 people team accompanies Jindal on his daily trips to about 20 villages. His son Venkatesh, who has just entered the voter’s list age, has joined his campaign as has his danseuse wife, Shallu.