Opposition raised hue and cry over Centre's farm laws, but it did not impact Baroda bypolls: Khattar

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Chandigarh, Nov 11 (PTI) Haryana Chief Minister M L Khattar on Wednesday said in spite of the 'hue and cry' raised by the opposition over the Centre's new farm laws, the issue did not have any adverse impact on the prospects of the ruling alliance candidate in the bypoll to the Baroda seat, which was retained by the Congress.

Asked if the farm laws had any negative impact on the poll prospects of the JJP-backed BJP candidate in Baroda, Yogeshwar Dutt, Khattar told reporters here, 'There was no impact.' He said the opposition raised a lot of 'hue and cry' over the farm laws.

However, in response to a question on whether all votes of coalition partner Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) got transferred to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate, Khattar said had that happened, Dutt would have secured 75,000 to 80,000 votes.

The Congress retained the Baroda Assembly seat on Tuesday after its candidate Indu Raj Narwal defeated Dutt, an Olympian wrestler, by a margin of 10,566 votes.

This was the second time Dutt tasted defeat from Baroda. He had lost the 2019 Assembly polls by about 4,800 votes to Congress candidate Sri Krishan Hooda, who won the seat thrice in 2009, 2014 and 2019. Hooda's demise in April had necessitated the bypoll.

Narwal polled 60,636 votes while Dutt secured 50,070. Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) nominee Joginder Singh Malik polled 5,003 votes while the Loktantra Suraksha Party's Raj Kumar Saini got 5,601.

Khattar, Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and other senior leaders of the alliance had aggressively canvassed for Dutt.

To counter the opposition criticism of the three recent farm laws enacted by the Centre, Khattar had even announced that he would quit politics if the minimum support price (MSP) system was dismantled, while accusing the Congress of 'misleading' farmers over the issue.

Interacting with reporters here on the sidelines of an official meeting, Khattar, when asked to comment on whether the BJP candidate got all the JJP votes, said, 'Had we got all, we would have secured nearly 75,000 to 80,000 votes.' At the same time, he said, when a party gets a particular number of votes fighting separately in an election, it never happens that all those votes get transferred to another party in an alliance.

'Last time we got 37,000 votes (from Baroda), this time we crossed 50,000, which means we got some votes from others (the JJP),' he said.

Talking to reporters in Sirsa, Deputy Chief Minister and JJP leader Dushyant Chautala congratulated Congress's Narwal on his poll victory, but said Dutt fought well.

'The workers of both parties (BJP, JJP) worked hard, which helped Dutt get more than 50,000 votes. We were hoping to get more than 60,000 votes. We will work harder the next time,' he said.

When a reporter pointed out that many were saying all the JJP votes did not get transferred to the BJP, he said, 'Whose votes got transferred, you know it all. If the alliance candidate got more than 50,000 votes, it is because of the hard work of the workers of the two parties.' Khattar pointed out that this was the first time the BJP got more than 50,000 votes in Baroda and said 'we have won even in defeat'.

'Despite winning, the Congress got 6,000 votes less than what they had got the last time.

'They (Congress) may have won the seat for the fourth time in a row, but we have also increased our vote share in the constituency. I congratulate the victorious candidate, Indu Raj Narwal,' he added.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters in Sirsa, senior INLD leader Abhay Singh Chautala took a swipe at the ruling alliance, saying, 'You should ask them how those 20,000 votes vanished. Why could they not get more than 70,000 votes despite their tall claims.' PTI SUN VSD RC