Kaun banega mukhya mantri: After BJP’s victory in Haryana election, CM pick will be key
The big question that is now staring BJP in the face is the choice of a Chief Minister, will Venkaiah Naidu go with the safe alternative of selecting a Jat face or take the risk of a non Jat Chief Minister.
BJP has seen a more than ten-fold increase in its tally, from four to 47, in the legislative assembly of Haryana making it the largest party and will form the government. The big question is who will be the new Chief Minister, who will represent BJP in the state.
BJP Haryana was a unique campaign as in it started very late with the party taking a long time to finalize its candidates. The party had a difficult time in finding candidates and there were a lot of charges traded of corruption after the first list. In the second list the party played very safe and went by the recommendations of state RSS unit. Even the recommendations of newly minted MPs from the state were ignored, giving rise to rumors that the election campaign will be weak. Even old timers like Kishan Pal Gurjar’s, an MP from Faridabad, son did not get a ticket to fight.
Amit Shah decided very early that there will be no Chief Minister projected, there was no talk about the manifesto. The advertising campaign for the election focused on anti-incumbency and Modi was the star campaigner. Compare this with INLD which was fighting for survival, its leader Om Prakash Chautala out from jail campaigned hard. The party was preparing for the campaign for a very long time, almost 18 months. Immediately after the Parliamentary elections INLD went into an overdrive with its candidates going door to door. It has emerged as a second largest party with 19 seats but it’s a sign of times that its vote share has shrunk to 24.1 per cent. It shows that the party that pioneered the Jat vote bank politics has surely seen its core base. Dushyant Chautala grandson of Om Prakash lost his seat though two other family members of Chautala clan won their seats.
The biggest decline is for Congress, even in the last elections Hooda could manage just 40 seats but formed the government with horse trading. Five Haryana Janhit Congress MLAs deserted their party and merged with Congress which also got support of seven Independents and a lone BSP member. Travesty of justice is such and so huge the clout of money and corruption in Haryana, that these HJC members were disqualified only last week by the order of High court. After the current government had completed its term and the disqualification was all but immaterial. This happens only in Haryana, unfortunately this news was not even carried in national English media. Delhi’s English language newspaper ignore Haryana, its politics and even the corruption because of the strong builder lobby. Even the run up to the election was poorly covered.
Hooda has a simple principle either you toe the line or he blocks all government advertising so the local newspaper both hindi and Punjabi toe his line. English newspaper are happy to take the advertising without investing in editorial teams in Chandigarh or any other city in Haryana.
Clearly, the population was fed up of Hooda and the writing was on the wall for so long, only because INLD was weak, BJP absent and no viable opposition he lasted for so long. BSP or other parties have also not been able to make any headway in Haryana and in these elections are content with just one seat.
Jat versus Non Jat
The big question that is now staring BJP in the face is the choice of a Chief Minister, will Venkaiah Naidu go with the safe alternative of selecting a Jat face or take the risk of a non Jat Chief Minister. Though, Jats make up 21 per cent of the voter base they vote as a block and have always had control of the Chief Ministers seat.
Successive Jat Chief Ministers have created a promoted and inducted only Jats into the system. Jats dominate police, local bureaucracy and administration. Almost every police station by a Jat SHO, promotion is caste based. Even if other castes get in to the police they hide their surnames. Same is the situation in city administration or even in the state bureaucracy.
Haryana has become Jat country while the Ahirs, Gurjars and even the trading community alienated. No other state has a situation where 21 per cent voters control the state so completely. BJP has also fielded 27 Jat candidates and is aware of the influence of the community. Congress veteran Birender Singh, a Jat leader joined BJP, but did not get too much importance in selecting candidates or even during the campaign. At a recent interaction with Birender Singh, before the election, he refused to criticize the Gandhi family or the Congress leadership. His pet peeve remains Hooda and rues the fact that over the years he has not been able to become the Chief Minster’s seat, and BJP will also not give him that chance.
There are several pretenders and wannabe who are all staking a claim for the Chief Ministers seat, including ex-Congress leaders, BJP workers and even some state RSS functionaries. Capt Abhimanyu Singh, BJP’s young Jat leader has also a staked a claim. Other contenders are Ram Bilas Sharma and M L Khattar and Sushma Swaraj is the dark horse.
Not Caste But Capability
The challenge is that in the Jat versus non Jat debate the Haryana’s real challenge will get ignored. The last few years has seen a rapid decline in the industrial culture in the state. Two largest manufacturing companies in the state, Hero Honda and Suzuki saw debilitating strikes that paralysed their operations. Both these companies have decided against expanding capacities in the state, Suzuki has already made investment in Gujarat. The state has done nothing to ease friction with workers proactively.
Expansion for manufacturing is almost impossible in Haryana. As the state that has implemented the UPA-2’s land rehabilitation and resettlement bill. Land is expensive in the state. Builders have relied on the government to give land, acquired for public purpose from farmers and given to them at cheap rates. DLF is not the only beneficiary of this largesse.
In Haryana, the CM clears every single file for land acquisition or conversion from agriculture to commercial. The premium on conversion is shared between politicians and builders. Several real estate companies operating in the state are owned by the politicians and their ownership is an open secret.
To break the builder lobby, bring growth, curb corruption, and balance the state budget Haryana needs a leader not a politician looking at lining his pockets. BJP may have won this election but if it wants to retain Haryana it will have to look for a young, political leader who has the state’s interest at heart. Is it too much to ask for an honest leader who can mould the future of the state?
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