Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala is the party's pick for the Jind bypoll.
Come January 28, Jind will turn into the electoral equivalent of a battlefield with armies pouring in from all sides. The bypoll to the constituency will witness a multi-cornered contest between the ruling BJP, the Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the relatively new Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) in a prestige clash that may just predict the general mood in Haryana ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
While the Congress has fielded chief party spokesperson and Kaithal lawmaker Randeep Singh Surjewala as its candidate, the JJP — formed from a split in the INLD recently — has chosen youth leader Digvijay Singh Chautala as its representative. He is the brother of JJP leader Ajay Singh Chautala and grandson of former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala.
Ajay Singh Chautala, who is currently in jail, had broken away from the INLD to float the JJP.
The bypoll was necessitated by the death of INLD legislator Hari Chan Middha, whose son — Krishna Middha — promptly joined the BJP and became its electoral candidate. The four key contestants filed their nomination papers for the bypoll on Thursday.
Jind is considered as an INLD stronghold, and the party is banking on Umed Redhu to garner votes from the majority Redhu community in the area. Key state Congress leaders, including former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, state party chief Ashok Tanwar and CLP leader Kiran Chaudhary, were present when Mr Surjewala filed his nomination papers in a rare show of unity. He received a further boost after senior Congress leader and four-time MLA Mange Ram Gupta announced his support for him.
Winning the by-election will be a test for the JJP. The party was formed last month after a power struggle between former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala's sons Ajay and Abhay ended up splitting the INLD. Digvijay Singh Chautala is putting up a brave face through it all.
"This bypoll is not limited to Jind. It will depict the whole (political) picture of the state," said Dushyant Chautala. "Digvijay is a youth leader and the party will benefit from it. People will support the youth leader in this bypoll. We have nominated the youngest candidate of the lot."
(With inputs from PTI)