It's the season for mega rallies

Jaideep Sarin   |  Chandigarh


It's show time in Haryana and the bigger it gets, the better it is - politically speaking.

With the general elections just about six months away and assembly elections in Haryana 11 months away, the season for big rallies in the state has not only begun but has set up a competition among major political parties and leaders.

The Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, set the ball rolling in September with his first big political show after coming centre-stage in national and BJP politics. His rally for ex-servicemen in Haryana's Rewari town, in which controversial former Indian Army chief, General V.K. Singh, shared the dais with him, was one of the big shows in recent times in the Congress-ruled state.

Modi said he was overwhelmed with the number of people turning up for the rally. "As far as the eyes can see, I can see only human heads," a visibly happy Modi remarked.

The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), Haryana's principal opposition party, put up its own show of strength in a different way last week in Kurukshetra, the town that is linked to the Mahabharata epic.

The INLD not only choked the state's highways, especially Haryana's lifeline, NH-1 (National Highway No. 1), with supporters and their vehicles trying to reach the venue but also ensured a huge attendance at the rally, which was organized to mark the 100th birth anniversary of former deputy prime minister Devi Lal.

What was unique about the rally was that leaders of all hues and parties shared the dais. They included Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal patron Parkash Singh Badal, BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (Asom Gana Parishad), leaders of the Telegu Desam Party (TDP) and even the Congress MP from Gurgaon, Rao Inderjit Singh.

While the INLD ensured the presence of these leaders, the party was surely missing its own big names - former chief minister and INLD president Om Prakash Chautala and his elder son Ajay Chautala. Both are behind bars after being convicted in January in a teachers' recruitment scam.

The BJP has no alliance with the INLD in Haryana, even though it has one with the Akali Dal in Punjab. The Badal and Chautala families are considered close and that prompted Badal to remark at the rally that the INLD and BJP should enter a tie-up in Haryana. At present, the BJP, which once had an alliance with the INLD, has a tie-up with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) led by Kuldeep Bishnoi, son of former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal.

Keeping in mind the number of people who attended these rallies, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is all set for his own big show on Sunday at Gohana town near Panipat.

Hooda's rally is to celebrate his government completing four years of its second term. Hooda and his supporters want to make a big show of it to send a clear message across Haryana for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections next year. The rally is to be held at a sprawling 500 acre venue and tens of thousands are expected to attend.

The show of strength and political ability in managing bigger numbers is a sure sign of being a big shot in Haryana. In the next one year, the state's top politicians will try to ensure that they come out with flying colours on this count. - IANS