Monday, October 17, 2011

Anna Hazare's effect not lost in the margin

The Congress finished a poor third and forfeited its deposit in the Hisar Lok Sabha by-election, results for which declared on Monday. Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) candidate and Bhajan Lal’s son Kuldeep Bishnoi was the victor.

Bishnoi scraped through with a narrow margin of 6,323 votes over his main rival Ajay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Bishnoi polled 3,55,941 votes while Chauthala got 3,49,618 votes. Bishnoi’s father, late Bhajan Lal, had won the Hisar seat in 2009 by a margin of 6,983 votes.

Congress’ Jai Parkash polled 1,49,785 votes, which is much reduced from the 2,04,539 he got in 2009 and when too he had trailed third. The party had nearly 54,000 votes less this time round, while the change in margin of the winner was about 660 votes.

Team Anna was happy that the Congress had lost but it tried to distance itself from the victory of Bishnoi, who said his victory was not because of the Anna-factor. “This was not our seat. It was held by Bhajan Lal who passed away recently, and there is nothing surprising about his son retaining it. This does happen in Indian politics,” said Congress spokesperson Renuka Chaudhary.

She asserted that the defeat was not a verdict on Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. “One by-election does not mean any such thing. The Congress has been in power for some time, so it does lead to some fatigue, but then as chief minister he still has some battery left,” she said, adding that chief minister’s do not come with an expiry date.

On Team Anna taking credit for this outcome, Chaudhary said that the right thing would have been if Arvind Kejriwal was fielded.l

He is the local man and that would have been the right thing to do, if they wanted to claim any credit,” Chaudhary said.

Speaking to DNA, Congress general secretary and party in-charge in Haryana BK Hari Prasad said that the verdict was on expected lines. “Congress lost Hisar even during the Sonia Gandhi wave in 2009. Kuldeep Bishnoi won on the sympathy vote for his late father, Bhajan Lal,” he said, denying that the Anna Team had any contribution to make in the Congress defeat. “They are shining on borrowed feathers.”

But Team Anna had its own take. “Congress doesn’t understand the language of fast. It only understands the language of votes.

Hisar elections were a sort of referendum for the Jan Lokpal Bill. The results have given clear indications to the Congress about what people want. They should learn from it,” said Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal. “We are not against any party. If the Congress passes a strict Lokpal Bill in the upcoming winter session, we will end our protest against it. We are protesting and asked people to vote against the Congress as that will put pressure on it to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill.”

Kejriwal cleared the air on why Anna decided not to go ahead with his UP tour. “We are not anti-Congress. Annaji would have come to this UP tour but he has given time to the government till the winter session. The prime minister has written a letter to him and we respect that. He has asked people to keep a watch on Parliament until the bill is passed,” Kejriwal said. He, however, warned the Congress that if it didn’t pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in the winter session, Team Anna would ask people to vote against Congress in UP assembly elections.


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