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Latest poll sop: a bride

Chandigarh, July 6 (PTI): Free power, colour TV, cheap rice… and now wedding bells.

A new “sop” has been added to the long list of Indian poll freebies with a Haryana BJP leader promising his state’s young men he would bring brides from Bihar for them if they strengthen his party.

Would-be grooms in Haryana often struggle to find brides because of the state’s skewed sex ratio of 879 women per 1,000 men, which has been blamed on female foeticide. The state votes in an Assembly election this year.

Many Haryana villages have 150 to 200 young men who can’t find brides, O.P. Dhankar told a Kisan Mahasammelan (farmers’ meeting) at Narwana in Jind on Friday.

“Making the BJP strong also means that those youths who are roaming without brides will get one,” he said.

Dhankar, president of his party’s Kisan Morcha (farmers’ front), had lost in the Lok Sabha polls to the Congress’s Deepinder Hooda from Rohtak.

He said that while touring the constituency, he regularly heard about local youths having to hunt for brides in faraway places such as Bihar.

“I told them that Sushil Modi (senior BJP leader in Bihar) is a good friend of mine. We will ensure a compatible match and do away with the practice of bringing brides from any other place,” Dhankar said.

Asked for his reaction, Sushil Modi said: “Dhankar merely said he would help those who want to marry legally. I feel he has talked about giving respect to women.”

But Modi also alleged that many Bihari girls were being “bought” by prospective Haryana grooms.

Sharad Yadav, chief of Bihar’s ruling Janata Dal (United), scoffed at Dhankar’s suggestion. “Marriages happen on their own. Many people from Haryana and Bihar have married. That happens by consent, not by force,” he said. “There are strange people in the country and the media are spreading their statements.”