Campaigning for high-stakes bypoll to Baroda seat ends, voting on Nov 3

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Chandigarh, Nov 1 (PTI) The campaigning for high-stakes Baroda assembly seat in Sonipat district of Haryana which goes to polls on November 3, came to an end on Sunday, with the BJP wooing the voters on development plank, while the main opposition Congress attacking the ruling party for neglecting the rural constituency.

The Baroda seat had fallen vacant in April after the demise of Congress MLA Shri Krishan Hooda, who had won the seat in 2009, 2014 and 2019 assembly polls.

Fourteen candidates are in the fray from Baroda, including wrestler-turned-politician Yogeshwar Dutt of the BJP, who is backed by saffron ally JJP, former Zila Parishad member Indu Raj Narwal of the Congress, while the Indian National Lok Dal has fielded Joginder Singh Malik.

Seven Independents and four candidates belonging to other parties, including former Kurukshetra MP Raj Kumar Saini who heads the Loktantra Suraksha Party, are in fray from the constituency.

The results will be out on November 10.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, JJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala campaigned for the ruling BJP, while former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda, state Congress chief Kumari Selja, senior leaders Kiran Choudhary and Deepender Singh Hooda sought votes for Congress candidate; INLD president O P Chautala and Abhay Chautala campaigned for their party candidate.

The BJP leaders, including state party chief O P Dhankar, and the ally JJP leaders sought votes on the development plank.

With the Congress playing up the Centre's new farm laws issue in the primarily agrarian constituency, Khattar during the poll campaign accused the opposition party of 'misleading' farmers by telling them the agriculture-related legislations would lead to dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system and said he would quit politics if that were to happen.

On Saturday, Khattar and Dushyant Chautala had jointly campaigned in the constituency.

The bypoll has become a battle of prestige for former CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda as the seat, a Jat-dominated constituency, lies close to his own Garhi-Sampla Kiloi seat in Rohtak, and is considered as his stronghold.

During the campaigning, Hooda hit out at the BJP-led government, accusing it of alleged failure on all fronts and neglecting the constituency for six years of their rule in the state.

Hooda, who held a road show in several villages on the last day of campaigning, said the Baroda byelection “will signal the beginning of a big change in the state”.

“A big wave of change will start in Haryana from Baroda… this time the people of Baroda will give a mandate that will shake the foundation of the state government to the core,” he said during his campaign trails.

The bypoll is equally important for INLD, which had slumped to its worst ever performance when the party could win only one out of 90 seats in the 2019 assembly polls.

INLD senior leader Abhay Singh Chautala has claimed that development has eluded the Baroda segment for the last 15 years under the Congress and later the BJP rule.

He claimed people were fed up with both BJP-JJP and Congress, adding that the INLD would emerge victorious in the bypoll.

The BJP, which has not tasted victory from this constituency, is eyeing to wrest the seat from the Congress.

Baroda was a reserved seat till 2005 and before the Congress won it for three consecutive terms, it had been INLD's pocket borough for a long time.

In the 2019 assembly elections, Congress' Shri Krishan Hooda defeated Yogeshwar Dutt of the BJP by 4,840 votes.

The BJP had won 40 of the 90 assembly seats in 2019 and later formed the government with JJP's support, which had won 10 seats.

A win in Baroda will take the saffron party's tally to 41 while if Congress wins, its tally will remain unchanged at 31 as the seat was held by Shri Krishan Hooda.

INLD's strength will rise to two if they win the seat.