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BJP going all out to wrest Rohtak, but breaking into Hooda family citadel uphill task

Press Trust of India  |  Rohtak (Haryana) 

The ruling BJP has worked intensely over the past five years to weaken the stronghold in the Jat-dominated constituency in Haryana, but the saffron party may find breaking into the citadel of the Hooda family an uphill task.

Sitting (41), seeking a fourth-term in this election, fought the strong "Modi wave" to emerge as the only in the state to make it to in 2014.

He defeated BJP's O P Dhankar by a margin of over 1.70 lakh votes.

Barring Rohtak, BJP won all the remaining seven seats it fought in 2014. INLD won two seats and one in that election.

After the defeat, the saffron party stepped up political activities in in a bid to weaken the Hooda family stronghold and the Congress.

Of the nine assembly segments under parliamentary constituency, which has a voter strength of over 17 lakh, four including Hooda's home town Rohtak, were won by BJP in 2014 assembly polls.

Rohtak MLA and Badli MLA O P Dhankar, whose constituencies fall under Rohtak parliamentary seat, were made ministers after BJP formed the government for the first time on its own in

The party has set up its state headquarters here.

had also camped in Rohtak for three days over a year ago and held series of meetings with party leaders.

too has chosen Rohtak to address a rally on Friday to wind up campaigning for the sixth phase of polling.

With all ten seats of going to polls in the sixth phase of polling on May 12, the contest in Rohtak, where Jat voters have sizeable presence, is seen as a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP, though 18 candidates including BSP's Kishan Lal and INLD's Dharamvir are in fray. There is also one woman in the contest.

Rohtak parliamentary constituency, which covers Rohtak, Jhajjar and parts of Rewari districts, has traditionally favoured Jat candidates, but BJP has chosen to field a Brahmin face.

BJP's (55), a former Congress from Karnal, has switched parties in recent years that included the BSP. He joined the BJP recently and was nominated from here.

The Rohtak seat was won by Deepender Hooda's grandfather the late Ranbir Singh in 1952 and 1957. Later, his father and former won from the seat four times and even defeated stalwart like former in the 1990s.

first entered the poll fray at the age of 27 when his father vacated the Rohtak parliamentary seat in 2005. was chosen as the after Congress won the assembly election that year with an overwhelming majority.

has been an in 2005, 2009 and 2014 as his family has held the seat nine times in 17 elections for the seat. This will be the first time the parliamentarian would be facing an election without the cushion of his father being in power.

The saffron party has been trying to build a public perception that 2016 Jat quota violence was orchestrated by supporters of Hooda Sr, who, rubbishing the charge, maintains that CM Manohar was trying to escape responsibility for his government's failure to control the stir.

The incidents of violence, of which districts like Rohtak and Sonipat were the epicentre, had claimed over 30 lives and left scores injured.

Khattar has also campaigned here and launched a scathing attack on the Congress and the Hoodas on various fronts.

is also contesting the LS election from another Jat-dominated constituency, Sonipat.

has been raking up the issue of "corruption", alleging this and favouritism was rampant under the previous Hooda-led dispensation whereas the present government brought transparency in all spheres, gave jobs on merit and showed "zero-tolerance" for corruption.

Addressing various poll meetings, Sharma credits the for undertaking all-round development in the country and seeks votes in the name of nationalism, national security and corruption-free governance.

He denies allegations by supporters of former CM that the BJP is trying to polarise election on caste lines and says a party that believes in "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas".

However, a video has gone viral in the parliamentary constituency in which Sharma, then as BSP leader, is seen reportedly accusing Hooda of concentrating development works to his home constituency Rohtak.

On being called a political dynast by the ruling party leaders, rubbishes the charge, saying "in a democracy, if you belong to a political family, you may get an opportunity once, but later people judge you by your work and conduct."

Addressing meetings during his campaign trails in Kalanaur here, he accused the BJP government of trying to weaken democratic and constitutional institutions.

He claimed because of "anti-labour" policies of the ruling BJP, unemployment has increased manifold.

Riding on a tractor, a motorcycle and an open vehicle during campaigning, Deepender Hooda tells people this poll is a fight between truth and lies. On one hand, you have Rs 15 lakh promise, promise of 2 crore jobs, and on the other, you have loan waiver and NYAY.

Apne Deepender ki yaheen pehchan, uski sharafat, uska kam", his supporter holds a banner as the MP addresses a gathering.

"It is 'gadh' (bastion) of the Congress, no matter how hard the BJP may try they cannot break into this fortress," claims the supporter.

Deepender Hooda talks about getting 1,168 km of national highway constructed, bringing AIIMS, IIM and footwear park.

The is confident of his victory, claiming his party will win the remaining nine seats in the state as well.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, May 09 2019. 18:46 IST