The Congress registered a comfortable win in the byelection to the Baroda Assembly seat in Haryana’s Sonipat district. In the election, held on November 3, Induraj Narwal, a former Zilla Parishad member from Sonipat, defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nominee, Yogeshwar Dutt, the wrestling champion and Olympian, by 10,566 votes.
Yogeshwar Dutt was the BJP’s nominee in the 2019 State Assembly election too. He had finished second, but the margin was narrow: he lost by only 4,840 votes to the Congress’s Krishan Hooda. (This byelection was necessitated by the untimely demise of Krishan Hooda, a three-time Congress legislator.) The Congress has thus not only retained the seat but improved its performance substantially.
The 2019 contest in Baroda was a three-cornered one in which the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) polled roughly as many votes as the BJP candidate. The JJP was formed in December 2018 by Dushyant Chautala after a vertical split in the parent party, Om Parkash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal. The JJP, however, entered into a post-election alliance with the BJP, which lacked the numbers to form a government on its own. This time, therefore, the JJP was not in the fray in a seat contested by the BJP.
With the INLD reduced to a shadow of its former self, the 2020 byelection was virtually a direct contest between the Congress and the BJP, although 14 contestants were in the fray, including seven independents. For the Congress, retaining the Baroda seat was important as it was considered a stronghold of two-time Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. It was for good reason that Bhupinder Singh Hooda and his son, Deepender Singh, former Lok Sabha MP, campaigned hard for the candidate.
Induraj Narwal polled 60,636 votes and secured 49.28 per cent of the vote share. Yogeshwar Dutt polled 50,070 votes, securing 40.7 per cent of the total votes polled. The INLD came a poor third, polling fewer than 5,003 votes. Raj Kumar Saini, former BJP MP from Kurukshetra and now founder of the Loktantra Suraksha Party who had spearheaded the agitation against Jats in 2017, polled as many votes as the INLD candidate.
In the 90-member Assembly, the BJP has 40 seats, the Congress 31, the JJP 10, and the INLD one. There are eight independent members.