Election Insight: Three Things That Can Work For The BJP In Haryana

Diksha Yadav

Jul 11, 2024, 05:54 PM | Updated 05:57 PM IST

Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Abhay Singh Chautala and Nayab Singh Saini
Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Abhay Singh Chautala and Nayab Singh Saini
  • The challenges facing the BJP ahead of assembly elections in Haryana.
  • Where do the political parties stand in Haryana ahead of the state's assembly election later this year?

    What can work for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and what are the drawbacks of its possible moves?

    In the latest episode of What This Means podcast, we discuss these and other aspects of Haryana politics with political commentator Rohit Pathania. Listen to the podcast on Spotify and the Swarajya app.

    Here are the highlights of the discussion.

    What Is Working For Congress In Haryana?

    We saw it in the Lok Sabha results this time that along with the Jat vote, there has been the move away of the Dalit vote in Haryana this time. So this was like a traditional vote combination that the Congress always had, at least under Bhupinder Singh Hooda, which seems to have revived itself again.

    And there is a sense of discontent against the BJP for sure. So what it resulted in was that some of the other community votes — not in big numbers, but numbers significant enough to create the sufficient delta — in addition to the Dalit vote did help the Congress make a solid comeback in Lok Sabha polls.

    But how does this translate into the Vidhan Sabha polls? The race is very tight, but right now it looks like it's Congress that will be the number one party.

    The BJP's Strategy And The Drawbacks

    1. The OBC vote: The BJP is banking on the fact that Nayab Singh Saini comes from one of the OBC (Other Backward Class) communities, and that could probably be the deciding factor for the BJP in securing a comfortable margin and a comfortable number of seats, at least in the Vidhan Sabha.

    However, Nayab Singh Saini is still seen by many people on the ground as a remote-controlled Chief Minister, and that the real remote still lies in the hands of Manohar Lal Khattar, though he is an MP and minister at the Centre now. This perception that Khattar seems to be having a presence in the state politics of Haryana is going against the BJP.

    2. Focusing on its core voters: There are other communities that are considered to be the hardcore vote banks of the BJP as well. For instance, the Punjabi Khatri community today is seen as a community that is very close to the BJP electorally. There are also communities like the Brahmin community in Haryana, which has a significant presence in places like Bhivani.

    3. The Jat vote: Much of this traces back to the 2016 agitations by the significant number of the Jat community for getting the reservation status, and at that time there were some BJP leaders who subsequently were removed from the party, and who had made very uncharitable comments against the Jat community as well. So that has remained a bugbear in a way against the BJP, and it's not an image that can easily get washed away.

    Secondly, the BJP has always struggled to find a groundworker or a face, a leader who has worked upwards and who belongs to the Jat community in Haryana. 

    The BJP has never been seen as a party that the Jats feel naturally allied with. The socially amenable alliance that the BJP attempted in 2019 with the JJP clearly didn't work out. And instead, what it ended up doing was creating the perception that it was being targeted and marginalised.

    However, with the recent induction of Kiran Chaudhary and Shruti Chaudhary in BJP, it's possible that Kiran may have a bigger profile than one would imagine despite her recent electoral losses. So if that happens, then it is clearly the case that the BJP sort of wants to get at least a section of the Jat community's votes.

    The BJP, not this time, but maybe five years down the line, would also want to project a woman and a Jat face as the CM candidate of Haryana. So maybe that's the long-term plan.

    Three Things That Can Work For BJP

    The BJP has gained a level of unpopularity because of this perception of inaction that had been generated about the government in the last five years, particularly.

    First, what the BJP can definitely play on though is the fact that they have offered a clean government where there has been minimal reporting of corruption, and they have also essentially tried to address many of the issues, especially around the urban centres.

    For example, there were schemes like the urban Aadhaar for property, which did cause a lot of chaos, but it is seen by many in the administrative circles as a successful story on ease of property registration and transfers.

    The second thing that the BJP can definitely play up is the law and order issue, plus the social fabric in terms of gender balance. Both these things improved under the BJP by a significant degree.

    Third, of course, would be the fact that now that they have a Chief Minister from a community that is traditionally non-dominant. So the BJP may want, or may choose to also highlight that as much on the ground.

    The BJP frankly needs to really wake up. It's nearly close to election time. But I don't see the BJP present anywhere on the ground or even talking about the elections at all. So they seem to be in some kind of limbo, that they're unable to come out of. I don't know how well BJP will be able to counter Congress' narrative on the ground on issues like Agniveer. 

    The BJP's silence on nearly everything is something that will probably start haunting it very soon if it does not come out all guns blazing and countering the narrative and social media strategy that the opposition is mounting against it.

    Will JJP be the Kingmaker Once Again?

    Given the present situation of the two parties — Congress and BJP — it seems that the biggest liability will be the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) of Abhay Chautala.

    There might still be a case where there is a hung assembly with the Congress being number one and the BJP being number two and the JJP somehow managing to be a kingmaker all over.

    The INLD-BSP Alliance

    The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) alliance is pretty much like the Shiromani Akali Dal-BSP alliance in Punjab today.

    The fact is, the INLD is basically a divided house. The uncle and father of Dushyant are both in the INLD and they were barely able to save their own seats in 2019. And Dushyant was the one that was seen as a successor to the entire mess.

    But there can be no reconciliation basically between the two parties because it always comes down to who will be the undisputed leader in the party, and that is a position that nobody is willing to give up.

    Given that context, INLD-BSP frankly have no chance. Had the JJP been one of the parties in this alliance, there would still be some chance of being a block of kingmakers. But as of now, I don't see them having much of an opportunity to other than probably be a spoil sport on a couple of seats for both the Congress and the BJP.

    Diksha Yadav is a senior sub editor at Swarajya.

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