Election in Haryana: Sports stars Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt got BJP tickets. (PTI)
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of the BJP will contest the state election from Karnal assembly seat, while sports stars Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt have got BJP tickets. Thirty-eight MLAs are contesting and seven have been dropped, BJP national general secretary Arun Singh said.
The BJP released its first list of 78 candidates for the election to Haryana’s 90-seat assembly, a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, party chief Amit Shah and senior leaders huddled together at the BJP headquarters in central Delhi for over three hours to select the candidates.
Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala will fight from Tohana. Ms Phogat has been given Dari and Mr Dutt Baroda.
Two BJP ministers – Rao Narbir Singh from Badshahpur and Vipul Goyal from Faridabad – have also not been given tickets.
In the 2014 state election, the BJP won 47 and the Congress 15; the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) took 19. The rest were won by other regional parties and independents.
Former Union Minister and Jat leader Birender Singh’s wife, who is an MLA, will contest from Uchana Kalan, a seat she won in 2014. There are nine women and two Muslims in the BJP’s first list for Haryana.
The BJP has already held several rallies in the northern state, where it faces a fragmented opposition. One of its major election issues is the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise to filter out illegal immigrants in the state, similar to the one carried out in Assam.
Ms Phogat and her father Mahavir Phogat joined the BJP in August. Ms Phogat, 29, is a three-time Commonwealth gold and silver medallist. She and her father inspired the 2016 Bollywood blockbuster “Dangal” starring Aamir Khan, about making it big in the male-dominated world of wrestling, mentored and coached by their father.
Ms Phogat has been supportive of the central government’s policies, including the move to scrap special status to Jammu and Kashmir. “I am a very big fan of (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi. I have been his fan since 2014. He has worked a lot for the country. I think everyone would like to join the BJP,” Ms Phogat said when she joined the party.
The term of the Haryana assembly ends on November 2. Maharashtra and Haryana will vote for new assemblies on October 21 and the results will be out three days later. The last date for filing nominations is October 4 and the deadline for withdrawing them is October 7.
These are the first state polls after the national election, which the BJP won by a landslide, clearing the way for PM Modi’s second term. There are 1.82 crore voters in the northern state; Maharashtra has 8.9 crore voters.
The elections are also the first after the Modi government’s big policy decisions including banning triple talaq and removing special status from Jammu and Kashmir and dividing it into two Union Territories.
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