Haryana: Saffron wave sweeps state, but Jats remain loyal to leaders

Chandigarh: Riding piggyback on parties like the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the now defunct Haryana Vikas Party not long ago, the BJP has scripted an amazing turnaround in the assembly elections. Not only has it emerged the strongest party in Haryana but also it has turned every existing political equation in the Jatland on its head. From four seats in 2009 to 47 in 2014, it’s a massive leap indeed.

 Haryana: Saffron wave sweeps state, but Jats remain loyal to leaders

Former Haryana chief minister OP Chautala. AP

The BJP recorded its best ever performance in Haryana, winning 33.2 percent of the total votes polled in the assembly elections. In the 2009 assembly elections, the BJP had won a mere nine percent of votes. INLD’s vote percentage stood at 24.1 percent, while that of the third placed Congress was 20.6 percent, down from 35.1 percent in 2009. The BSP equaled its best ever performance in Haryana of one seat, but its votes share dipped to 4.3 percent from 6.73 percent in 2009. Independents and others had a vote share of 14 percent.

Although many trends and myths were broken in the state poll, one trend that continued was the people of the state voting for the same party in power at the Centre. Jat voters, who form the largest vote share in the state, remained loyal to their traditional Jat leaders-the Chautalas of the INLD and outgoing chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress. In the Jat heartland of Sirsa the INLD won all five seats. In the Deswali belt (Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Bahadurgarh, Badli) Hooda won 10 of the 14 seats.

In the process 'Big Brother' INLD, the main opposition party in Haryana again, has been relegated to the second position with just 19 seats in its bag. The Congress, that has ruled the state for the last 10 years under Bhupinder Singh Hooda also suffered a humiliating defeat, being reduced from 40 to 15 seats and failing to get even the status of the main opposition leader. An important fact of the present election was that the BJP won 22 of its total 47 seats from just six districts of the GT Road belt of Ambala, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Yamunanagar and Panchkula and Kalka.

Now that the BJP has got to power, the most important question is who is going to be the chief minister of Haryana. Talking to Firstpost, senior BJP leader and newly elected MLA from Panchkula, Gyan Chand Gupta, said the issue will be decided at a meeting of the BJP in Chandigarh on 21 October.The BJP did not project any chief ministerial candidate during the election campaign, but it has to decide now whether the chief minister would be a Jat or a non-Jat. Among the leading contenders for the top job are Ram Bilas Sharma, Capt Abhimanyu, Manoharlal Khattar (with RSS background), Anil Vij and Om Prakash Dhankar. It’s a mix of Jats and non-Jats.

The incredible performance of the Narendra Modi-led BJP has led many people to suggest renaming of Haryana as Modiana. The party’s social engineering formula to consolidate non-Jat voters, besides the Jats worked to its advantage. For perhaps the first time, the BJP also made a good impact among the rural populace, and the Dalits who have traditionally been Congress supporters.

Victory in seven of the eight seats the BJP contested in the Lok Sabha polls gave it the confidence to go it alone in the assembly elections. The fact that the party had led in 52 of the 90 constituencies of the state, made the BJP believe that it could come to power on its own. First the party cold-shouldered its earlier alliance partner INLD and rejected its offer of support. Next the BJP cared two hoots for the noise, threats, protests and tantrums of Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) chief Kuldeep Bishnoi to stick to its promise of allotting half the seats (45 assembly constituencies) and the chief minister’s post to the HJC.

Having seen the poor performance of the HJC in the earlier poll, the BJP was just not ready to accept its 'unjust’ demands. Had HJC understood its limitations and acted accordingly, it would have gained a great deal, but Kuldeep Bishnoi has a knack of making wrong moves at the right time and paying the price.

The INLD was no doubt hampered by the negative impact on the voters because two of its top leaders, party supremo Om Prakash Chautala and son Ajay Chautala were in jail under the JBT teachers scam case. The INLD did try to make a last ditch effort with OP Chautala, who was out on bail, actively campaigning for a week. But the party failed to make enough impact on even its traditional rural voters, ending up with a poor 19 seats.

Despite tall claims, the ruling Congress, hit by the anti-incumbency factor was decimated by the BJP. Allegations of land scams, Vadra-DLF land deal issue and allotting tickets to the CLU tainted leaders cost the Congress dear. Regional bias, growing unemployment and failing to control rising prices led to the Congress downfall. In the end the Congress paid a heavy price for its omissions and commissions.

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Updated Date: Oct 21, 2014 07:51:46 IST