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Farmers’ anger surfaces in INLD’s Haryana bypoll win as BJP trails in almost all villages

The INLD won the bypoll at Ellenabad, maintaining a healthy lead in the villages of the constituency while the BJP led in the urban centres. 

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Chandigarh: Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) secretary general Abhay Chautala Tuesday won the Ellenabad bypoll in Haryana defeating his nearest contender, Gobind Kanda of the BJP, by a margin of over 6,700 votes, in an election that brought out the discontent farmers have against the ruling party. 

The village-wise data, released by the Chief Election Office, Haryana, shows Chautala remained ahead of Kanda in almost every village in the constituency but the BJP candidate registered a big lead in Ellenabad town, pointing towards the fact that the semi-urban vote-bank of the BJP has remained intact, despite the 10-month-long farmers’ agitation that began in Punjab but spread to Haryana as well. 

According to the data, in the 33 polling stations of Ellenabad town, Kanda secured 10,866 votes while Chautala got 5,326 votes, giving the BJP leader a lead of 5,540 votes. 

It was in the rural areas that Chautala not only ate into the deficit, but also ensured he won by over 6,700 votes. Barring villages such as Randhawa and Dholpalia, where Kanda got a clear lead, Chautala remained ahead in the rest. 

The winning candidate alluded to the role that farmers played in the election, following the result.  

The people of Ellenabad have voted against the three black laws,” he tweeted. 

The Ellenabad bypoll itself was necessitated after Chautala resigned from the assembly in January this year in support of the farmer’s agitation against the three central farm laws brought in by the Modi government. 

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Victory by reduced margin 

While this is Chautala’s fourth consecutive victory from the seat, his victory margin is lesser than what it was in the 2019 assembly elections, when he had beaten the BJP’s Pawan Beniwal by over 11,000 votes.

In these elections, while Chautala secured 65,992 votes, Kanda managed 59,253 votes and Beniwal, who fought on a Congress ticket, finished third with 20,904 votes.  

Kanda is the elder brother of businessman politician Gopal Kanda, but had left his brother’s Haryana Lokhit Party to join the BJP ahead of the bypolls. Gopal Kanda is the sitting MLA from Sirsa but supports the BJP–JJP alliance in the state.

For Kanda, this is his third successive defeat in elections. In the 2014 and 2019 assembly polls, he contested from Rania and lost. Apart from the controversies faced by his brother which had some impact on his poll prospects, it was clear that the older Kanda was facing the ire of farmers for being the BJP candidate. 

On many occasions during his campaign, farmers blocked his venue. Even on the day of his filing his nomination papers, he had to face angry farmers and their supporters. In a video that went viral ahead of the elections, Kanda is seen being rudely ushered out of a gurdwara in Ellenabad where he had gone to pay his obeisance. 

Political analysts believe that Chautala’s victory margin only reduced because of the wrong choice of the Congress candidate, among other factors. 

“Chautala was expected to win by a margin of at least 15,000 votes. But several factors led to him not winning as spectacularly as expected. First, for over a month, the entire state government machinery of the BJP-JJP combine was working in Ellenabad to ensure that the BJP candidate wins. Second, people in towns, especially traders, and also in villages usually do not vote against the government in power thinking that they should not spoil their relationship with the government. This is also the reason that ruling governments win bypolls,” said Prof. Rajbir Singh, head of the department of political science, Central University of Haryana.

“Third, in Ellenabad the Congress candidate proved very weak and most of his votes transferred to the BJP. Had the Congress put up another candidate, the BJP would not have done this well. Fourth, the BJP candidate belongs to a very rich business family. Apart from the expenditure that the party did for Kanda, he and his brother had campaigned very lavishly.”

Prof. Singh added that the results show that the farmers have appreciated Chautala’s gesture that he resigned in their support and despite all these odds, they have ensured his victory. 

The election results are also expected to sharpen the differences in the state Congress. Pawan Beniwal was state party president Kumar Selja’s choice of candidate, and she had inducted him ahead of the bypolls. Pawan’s uncle Bharat Beniwal was originally the contender for the Congress ticket.   

(Edited by Arun Prashanth)

Also read: Will support farmers, removal from BJP executive not a sign of anything: Birender Singh


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