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Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress

Apart from Kumari Sejla from Sirsa (SC) and Deepender Hooda (Rohtak), others do not inspire much confidence

After seemingly endless deliberations over choice of candidates for nine of the 10 lok sabha seats in Haryana being contested by the Congress in alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the first list of eight candidates released by the party high command late on Thursday (25.04.2024) clearly stamps the dominance of party heavyweight from the state Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

Barring former Union minister and four time Lok Sabha member Kumari Selja, all the other candidates are considered to be from the Hooda camp. Selja herself has not been fielded from the constituency of her choice, which was Ambala (SC), but from Sirsa (SC) seat. She has represented both seats twice each in the Lok Sabha.

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress, Lifeinchd
Varun Chaudhary is Congress candidate from Ambala (SC) seat

From Ambala (SC) seat, the party has bet its money on a young face, sitting Mulana (SC) MLA Varun Chaudhary, son of former long standing state party chief and Haryana minister Phool Chand Mulana.

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress, Lifeinchd
Rao Dan Singh to contest from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh seat

For the Bhiwani-Mahendragarh seat, which has been dominated for decades by Haryana stalwart Bansi Lal’s family, the party has denied the ticket to Bansi Lal’s paternal granddaughter and former MP from the seat Shruti Chaudhary. It has preferred four times, and also sitting MLA from Mahendragarh Rao Dan Singh.

After making a giant kill in her first lok sabha elections in 2009 from the seat, when she defeated prominent Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader Ajay Chautala, Shruti Chaudhary lost to BJP’s Dharambir Singh in 2014 and 2019 by big margins. BJP has once again reposed faith in Dharambir Singh from the seat.

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress, Lifeinchd
Deepender Hooda again pitched against Arvind Kumar Sharma of the BJP from Rohtak LS seat

Congress has again pitched the only party Rajya Sabha member from the state and Hooda’s son Deepender Singh Hooda against BJP’s incumbent MP Arvind Kumar Sharma from Rohtak seat. Deepender, who won the seat thrice since 2005, lost narrowly to Arvind Kumar Sharma in the 2019 elections, when the BJP swept all 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress, Lifeinchd
Jai Prakash it is from Hisar

Brijendra Singh, incumbent BJP MP from Hisar, who recently resigned from the party and joined the Congress, was widely believed to get the party ticket to contest the seat again, but instead the party decided to go with Jai Prakash, former three-time MP from the seat (1989-Janata Dal, 1996-Haryana Vikas Party of Bansi Lal, 2004-Congress) and former Union deputy minister in Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar ministry.

Incidentally in his latest attempt at contesting elections, Jai Prakash could not even win an assembly byelection. He lost the 2022 byelections to the Adampur assembly segment of the Hisar parliamentary constituency to rookie BJP candidate Bhavya Bishnoi, son of then incumbent MLA Kuldeep Bishnoi, who quit the Congress and the seat to join the BJP.

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress, Lifeinchd
Punjabi vs Punjabi: Haryana Youth Congress president Divyanshu Budhiraja is the party candidate against former chief minister Mahohar Lal of the BJP from Karnal

Springing a surprise, the Congress has played a gamble, pitching a young rookie Divyanshu Budhiraja (31) against former Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal of teh BJP, who quit the post to contest the Lok Sabha elections from his home turf Karnal. He represented Karnal as MLA when he was chief minister. In fielding Budhiraja, who is state youth Congress president, from Karnal, the party has tried to match Manohar Lal, who belongs to the Punjabi community, with a candidate from the same community.

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress, Lifeinchd
Satyapal Brahamchari is the surpirse Congress candidate from Sonipat

Another surprise is the party candidate named to contest from Sonipat, from where Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who belongs to the Jat community, had suffered a shock defeat in 2019 at the hands of Ramesh Chander Kaushik of the BJP, who hails from the Brahmin community.

The party this time has shown faith in a Brahmin, Satpal Brahamchari, who manages multiple dharamshalas, ashrams and temples in Haryana, and in Haridwar, and lost his first big elections as a Congress candidate from Haridwar assembly seat in 2022.

Congress’ First List Of 8 Candidates For Haryana Fails To Impress, Lifeinchd
Mahendra Pratap returns to active electoral politics as Congress candidate from Faridabad

Former two-time Haryana cabinet minister and five-time MLA Mahendra Pratap is making a comeback in electoral politics, having been given the party ticket to contest from Faridabad.

The party has reserved its decision on fielding a candidate from Gurgaon.

Under the INDIA alliance, Congress has left the Kurukshetra seat to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has already announced state party president and its former Rajya Sabha member Sushil Gupta as its party candidate.

In announcing the first list of party candidates from Haryana, Congress, which commands a considerable Jat vote bank in the state, has tried to counter the BJP’s attempts at consolidating the non-Jat votes.

Apart from naming two jats – Deepender Singh Hooda from Rohtak and Jai Prakash from Hisar, and dalits to the two reserved seats – Kumari Selja from Sirsa and Varun Chaudhary from Ambala, the party has taken care to accommodate a Brahmin – Satpal Brahmchari from Sonipat, a Punjabi – Divyanshu Budhiraja from Karnal, and two members from the other backward classes (OBCs) – Rao Dan Singh from Bhiwani-Mahendragarh and Mahendra Pratap from Faridabad.

Polling to the 10 Lok Sabha seats in Haryana will be held in the sixth and penultimate phase of the elections on May 25. The final phase will be held on June 1 and counting for all seven phases of the elections will start on June 4.

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