Ambala: The Congress candidate for Ambala Cantonment assembly seat is pitted not only against a strong BJP nominee, five-time BJP MLA and Haryana minister Anil Vij, but also faces a rebel from his own party. The third main candidate in Ambala is Chitra Sarwara, the daughter of former Congress minister Nirmal Singh who failed to get a ticket from the party that had fielded him in the past two elections.
After the party picked Mahila Congress leader Venu Singla, who is said to be close to Haryana unit chief Kumari Selja, Nirmal Singh quit. His daughter, who has been a national secretary of the Mahila Congress, too resigned from the party in protest. The father-daughter duo is now out to make things difficult for the Congress in the 21 October assembly polls.
While Nirmal Singh filed his nomination from Ambala city as an independent candidate, Chitra Sarwara jumped into the fray in Ambala Cantonment. The Indian National Lok Dal and the breakaway Jannayak Janta Party have decided to let the BJP, the Congress and the rebel contestant fight it out among themselves for the seat.
INLD candidate Omkar Singh withdrew his nomination in Sarwara's favour. JJP's Gurpal Singh Majra too pulled out, backing Vij. Sarwara attacks the ruling BJP over jobs. She says the youth in Haryana are fed up with the state government's employment policy and want a change. Congress candidate Singla claims the BJP government has failed on law and order.
Vij, who is the state's health minister, says he believes in “practical work”, not promises. More industries are coming to Ambala Cantonment, he assures. He first fought from this constituency in 1990, when the BJP gave him the ticket after sending the then Ambala Cantonment MLA Sushma Swaraj to the Rajya Sabha.
He won that by-election and also succeeded in 1996, 2000, 2009 and 2014. Known for his controversial statements, Vij is hoping for a hat-trick this time. He began his campaign soon after the Lok Sabha elections this year. Before the notification of assembly polls, he had already held around 100 corner meetings.
The BJP lists several sanctioned projects in the region it says will make a difference in Vij's constituency, a general hospital (Rs 253 crore), a cancer hospital (Rs 83 crore), a martyrs' memorial (Rs 200 crore), a football stadium (Rs 90 crore) and the four-laning of the Ambala-Saha road (Rs 220 crore).
"I believe in practical work, not in promises,” says the BJP candidate. “I have prepared a blueprint for development work in my constituency. In the coming years, Ambala Cant will be one of the most developed cities in the state, like Panchkula and Gurugram,” he says.
Sarwara, a former Ambala municipal councillor, claims no big industry that could give jobs to the youth has been set up in Ambala Cantonment during the BJP's current term. “The residents didn't even get the basic amenities," she claims.
"The Haryana government has failed to fulfil promises made in the last election manifesto. Most of the development projects claimed by Vij are incomplete,” she says. “Most of the youth are fed up with the employment policy of the government and they want change,” she adds.
Congress candidate Singla alleges that crime against women is on the rise. “The government has failed to provide security to the common man. The price hike has upset the kitchen budget. Residents of Ambala Cantonment are deprived of even the essential infrastructure and facilities,” she complains.
In the 2014 Haryana assembly election, Vij defeated Nirmal Singh, then in the Congress, by about 15,000 votes. In the recent Lok Sabha elections, the BJP candidate got a lead of about 35,000 votes from this assembly segment.
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Updated Date: Oct 17, 2019 15:02:45 IST