Families Of All Three 'Lals' In The Party, But BJP Might Still Struggle To Retain Haryana

Abhishek Kumar

Jun 21, 2024, 05:49 PM | Updated Jun 22, 2024, 12:58 PM IST

Two key caste leaders in Haryana have moved from the Congress to the BJP.
Two key caste leaders in Haryana have moved from the Congress to the BJP.
  • The entry of a mother-daughter leader duo into the BJP will have an impact, but only a limited one. The party will need to do more, though an 11th-hour strategy flip would be risky.
  • Two key caste leaders in Haryana have joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) after abandoning the Congress.

    For the BJP, which is weakened by the latest election results in the state, the new admissions could be a welcome change.

    Kiran Chaudhary and her daughter Shruti Chaudhary joined the BJP on 19 June, a day after their exits from the Congress.

    While Kiran is a Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) from Tosham, her daughter Shruti was one of four working presidents of the Congress' Haryana unit. Shruti is also a former member of parliament (MP) from the Bhiwani-Mahendragarh seat.

    In their resignation letters to Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, the mother-daughter duo raised concerns about the increasing monopoly of one person in the state unit.

    Kiran described the party unit as a personal fiefdom, while Shruti accused this one person of compromising the party's interests.

    The veiled dig was directed towards the former chief minister, Bhupinder Hooda.

    The immediate cause of the exit is attributed to Shruti being denied a ticket from Bhiwani, a Lok Sabha seat she had won in 2009 by beating Ajay Singh Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).

    Because the Hooda family (Bhupinder and his son Deepender Hooda) are effectively in charge of ticket distribution, their old rivalry with Kiran was seen as the reason why Shruti was denied a ticket.

    Kiran was a member of the "SRK (Kumari Selja, Randeep Surjewala, and Kiran Choudhury)" faction of the Haryana Congress. This group is the only voice of dissent against the Hooda family’s dominance in the state unit.

    Hooda’s choice was Rao Dan Singh, an MLA from the Mahendragarh assembly segment. Though he was able to narrow the gap with the rival candidate, he failed to defeat the BJP’s Dharambir Singh.

    Gurugram and Sirsa are two other controversial seats. In Sirsa, Kumari Selja, the bête noire of Hooda, won handsomely by more than 2.68 lakh votes.

    Selja has come out in support of the mother-daughter duo and said Shruti could have won from Bhiwani in the 2024 election. She added that the party (read: Hooda) was unjust to Shruti.

    "It is a sad thing... the party will definitely face some loss because of this," Selja said.

    For the BJP, a big positive is that it now has members from each of the three Lals of Haryana — Devi Lal, Bhajan Lal, and Bansi Lal.

    Kiran and Shruti are the daughter-in-law and granddaughter, respectively, of Bansi Lal. In fact, the Tosham seat that Kiran has held since 2005 was a bastion of her father-in-law, Bansi Lal.

    There is another reason why the Chaudharys’ entry into the BJP is considered crucial. The party is expecting that they will be able to quell the Jat community's ire towards them to some extent.

    The BJP suffered heavy defeats in the Jat-dominated seats of Hisar, Rohtak, and Sonipat. Observers say the party contested the Lok Sabha election in the state by focusing on non-Jat votes. For that, they even removed O P Dhankar, a Jat, from the party's presidency and handed over the command to Nayab Saini, an Other Backward Class (OBC) leader.

    Saini was later appointed as the chief minister in the aftermath of Manohar Lal’s resignation.

    On 18 June, a meeting on the election debacle was chaired by BJP President J P Nadda, in which a discussion was held around changing the strategy. Voices in favour of giving a longer rope to leaders from the Jat community were also heard.

    The question is, how pragmatic will this approach (if any) turn out to be?

    There is deep disenchantment and a long list of grudges that Jats hold towards the BJP. It includes alleged mishandling of farmers’ protests, minimum support price demands, the wrestlers’ protest, and respect for Jats (the BJP is accused of taking Jats for granted), among others.

    The BJP kept missing the mark these last 10 years, while Hooda took the opportunity to shift Jats’ loyalties towards the Congress. The BJP focused on getting non-Jat votes, the price of which they paid in the latest election.

    Sure, the Chaudharys’ induction will have an impact. But Haryana observers say it will be limited to Bhiwani-Mahendragarh and nearby areas. For a statewide impact, more is needed.

    The problem is dire, as the election is barely six months away. All efforts to take the Jat community voters on board have failed till now, and the community seemed determined to teach the BJP a lesson, as seen even in the 2019 assembly election.

    Changing strategy at the 11th hour may be too risky. The BJP’s alleged 'Jat vs All' strategy offers a higher probability of success.

    Abhishek is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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