Mahendragarh: After a wipeout from south Haryana in the last Assembly elections, the Congress is looking for a revival in the region as a result of the growing discontent within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over distribution of tickets and the rift in the Chautala-clan-led Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) that has led to the formation of the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP).
The Yadav-dominated Ahirwal belt of south Haryana comprises 11 seats, including Gurugram, Rewari and Mahendragarh. All the seats in the region are with the BJP. And in some seats, the newly formed JJP is giving the Congress a tough contest.
The area is a stronghold of stalwarts -- BJP's Rao Inderjit Singh and Congress leader Captain Ajay Singh Yadav. Rao Inderjit Singh was a minister in the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government, but switched to the BJP in 2014 following differences with then Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Captain Ajay Singh Yadav contested the Lok Sabha elections from the Congress but lost.
In these elections, his son Chiranjiv Yadav is contesting from Rewari on a Congress ticket, while Rao Inderjit could not manage a ticket for his daughter Arti Singh from Rewari.
Instead the BJP gave a ticket to his aide Sunil Musepur. Upset over denial of ticket, sitting MLA from Rewari Randhir Kapriwas is contesting as an independent.
Other sitting MLAs, who are upset over being ignored in the ticket distribution are Gurugram sitting MLA Umesh Aggarwal, Pataudi MLA Bimla Chowdhary, Badshahpur MLA and Minister Rao Narbir Singh.
In Mahendragarh, the BJP has repeated senior BJP leader Ram Bilas Sharma, who is pitted against Rao Dan Singh of the Congress. Sharma had won the Mahendragarh seat in the last elections riding on the Modi wave, even though the area is dominated by the Yadav community.
This time though development seems to be at the core of the election messaging, with the Congress relying completely on the work done by its previous governments. The party insists that it has given the region three universities, including a Central University in Mahendragarh.
Its manifesto promises loan waiver to farmers, job reservations to women, cash incentives to educated jobless youth, a strong legislation to check mob lynching, a cut in electricity bills and a check on pollution caused by stubble burning.
The BJP manifesto on the other hand, focuses on the farmers and the Scheduled Castes with interest-free loans, free education for girls belonging to the poor families and skill training for 25 lakh youth.
While critics like Majra Khurd sarpanch Satyendra believe the BJP has not done anything for the region, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar says his party`s manifesto is in line with the principles of creating a Ram Rajya, meaning an honest government with zero tolerance to corruption and transparency.