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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 26 New Delhi June 15, 2019

Resounding Success of the BJP in Haryana

Monday 17 June 2019

by Kushal Pal

This is for the first time since Haryana was formed in 1966 that the saffron party made a clean sweep by winning all ten seats in the State. The party secured 57.93 per cent votes, almost double of the Congress’ vote-share and an increase of 23.14 per cent as the BJP secured 34.84 per cent votes in 2014. The Congress failed to retain its sole Rohtak parliamentary seat though there is an increase of 5.45 per cent in its vote-share from 22.98 in 2014 to 28.44 per cent votes in 2019. The INLD and its offshoot JJP faced humiliating defeats. The pre-poll alliance of the AAP and JJP as well as well as of the BSP and LSP proved to be non-starters in Haryana politics and their poll percentages remained very poor: 9.23 per cent and 4.09 per cent respectively.

The 2014 parliamentary elections had brought about a paradigm shift in the party system of Haryana and had enabled the BJP to become a major player from a minor one in the politics of the State. The same pattern of electoral politics persisted more or less in the elections to the Haryana Legislative Assembly. The BJP formed the government on its own in Haryana for the first time by winning 47 seats and by obtaining 33.2 per cent votes.

The steep increase in the electoral fortunes of the party in the 2019 parliamentary elections could be ascribed to the Modi factor and persistence of the Jat-non Jat divide in the politics of Haryana which seems to be more intense than in the 2014 parliamentary elections.

The electoral landscape of Haryana has however, undergone the following changes due to the following factors.

1. After assuming power in Haryana the BJP Government introduced administrative initiatives like CM Window, Online FIR, Online transactions in mandis and Online birth registrations etc. These measures are being perceived as people- friendly.

2. The BJP has been able to derive further benefit from India’s recent conflict with Pakistan on account of the fact that Haryana is a major source of recruitment to the Army, BSF and CRPF. Besides, Modi is being perceived as a strong Prime Minister capable of facing the challenge from Pakistan.

3. The Manohar Lal Khatter-led government in Haryana has also been able to create an impression that corruption has declined and the recruitments are being made on the basis of merit during its rule. Fair recruitments have helped the BJP to spread its support-base in the rural areas.

4. The BJP has also considerably benefited by the fallout of the two violent agitations for reservations by the Jats. Moreover, the BJP Government continues to be perceived by the non-Jats as a government which has been able to oust the Jats from power and is perceived as the only force that can prevent the Jats from regaining power. This has helped the polarisation of urban and non-Jat voters in favour of the BJP. The formation of the Loktantra Suraksha Manch by Rajkumar Saini, a dissident BJP MP, has virtually failed to make any perceptible impact on the support-base of the BJP among the non-Jats in general and the Backward Classes in particular.

5. Moreover, micromanagement at booth level through panna pramukhs helped the party to reach the local voter and the multi-cornered contests divided the Opposition votes to the advantage of the BJP.

6. The Congress has been weakened by chronic infighting and the complete failure of Ashok Tanwar, the President of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee, to win back the support of non-Jats in general and the Backward Castes and the Scheduled Castes in particular despite the fact that he belongs to a Scheduled Caste. The faction-ridden politics of the Haryana Congress cost it dear and has been rejected by the voters of Haryana.

7. The INLD has also begun to suffer from the crisis of identity. The decision of Chautala’s elder son, Ajay Chautala, and his grandsons, Dushyant Chautala and Digvijay Chautala, to form the JJP has virtually decimated the INLD’s support-base. Its core Jat support-base seems to have deserted the party. This is evident from the outcome of the election in which the INLD and JJP candidates with the exception of the Hisar candidate, Dushyant Chautala, have forfeited their security deposits.

8. The BSP, which had formed an alliance with the INLD, decided to break the same on account of this development. The Aam Aadmi Party too has failed to make any headway in the politics of Haryana on account of the social composition of the State.

The splendid victory of the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections will prove to be a morale booster for its leadership and the entire rank and file and is most likely to have a huge bearing on the upcoming Assembly elections to be held in October this year as the party has taken lead in 79 Assembly segments. It will also prepare the ground for the emergence of Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar as the tallest non-Jat leader and to come again to power in the State.

The Congress needs to revisit its strategy and settle its house if it wishes to regain in the politics of Haryana. The INLD is already a divided house and chances of its revival are dim. The other smaller and adhoc political parties will continue to be insignificant in the politics of State. However, it must not be ignored that in Assembly elections local dynamics is more important.

The author is an Associate Professor and Head, Department of Political Science, Dyal Singh College, Karnal (Haryana).

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