Chandigarh: The opposition in Haryana is set to be splintered, providing the formidable ruling BJP with another boost ahead of assembly elections in the state.
All talk of the Congress stitching up a pre-poll alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) getting back together with its breakaway, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP), have come to nought.
To make matters worse, the weeks-long talks have, in fact, enhanced bitterness among the opposition parties as a result of which they are now busy pulling each other down instead of focusing on their campaigns against the BJP.
Rajasthan developments end hopes of Congress-BSP tie-up
The defection of the six BSP MLAs in Rajasthan, all of whom joined the ruling Congress Tuesday has dealt a body blow to the possibility of the two parties coming together in Haryana.
BSP general secretary Satish Mishra had earlier insisted that there was no question of the party tying up with the Congress, adding that it will go it alone on all 90 seats in Haryana.
The Congress’ Haryana president Kumari Selja also told ThePrint that there has been no effort by the party to tie up with the BSP.
“No meetings have been held. The possibility of a tie-up with BSP is not even under consideration,” she added.
Despite the denials, it was widely known that the Congress was in touch with the BSP to try and work out a seat-sharing formula and consolidate Dalit voters ahead of the elections. The events in Rajasthan, however, have led to talks ending abruptly.
The BSP had also dabbled with the two Jat-centric parties — the INLD and the JJP.
It initially stitched up an alliance with the INLD ahead of the 2019 Parliamentary elections but broke away and tied up with the JJP instead.
BSP supremo Mayawati called off the alliance with the JJP on 7 September, citing seat sharing as the reason for her decision. She had thrown in a condition that until the INLD and the JJP came together, the BSP would not collaborate with them.
Little headway in INLD, JJP talks
All hopes of the INLD and the JJP patching up have also been dashed after a serious and final bid by a number of the state’s Khap panchayats failed to draw any positive results.
Even former Punjab chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Parkash Singh Badal, known to be close to the Chautalas, attempted to bridge the differences between Abhay Singh Chautala, the INLD head, and his elder brother Ajay Chautala, whose son, former MP Dushyant Chautala, heads the JJP.
Dushyant had created the JJP out of the INLD last year after an ugly family feud between his father and uncle. The division, however, led to a drubbing in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The INLD vote share plummeted from 24 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to 1.8 per cent in 2019. The JJP, in its debut election, fared marginally better with around 6 per cent of the total votes.
In the aftermath of the polls, the INLD was further decimated with several of its MLAs leaving the party to join either the BJP or the Congress.
Dushyant has made it clear that he does not want anything to do with the INLD. Even while the Khap panchayats were trying to mediate between the two parties, the JJP announced candidates on six seats.
“I was not approached by Badalsaab or anyone else for rapprochement. I have already said that the families can come together but there cannot be a political tie-up at this stage,” Dushyant told ThePrint.
“In any case, the INLD is a spent force. Its MP candidates lost their deposits and most of its MLAs have deserted it. Tying up with the INLD would mean multiplying something with zero, which in the end would also be a zero.”
If anything, the entire exercise that began last week has only increased the bitterness among the Jat Khap leaders and members of the Chautala family.
“I tried my best but it is Dushyant’s arrogance that has not allowed the two families and the parties to come together,” said Ramesh Dalal, the head of the panchayats committee that was tasked with bringing the two parties together.
“It would have been more politically beneficial to Dushyant to have a tie-up with the INLD. Both could then have approached the BSP for a tie-up. A pre-poll alliance with Congress could then have become a possibility,” Dalal said.
“A strong mahagathbandhan could have easily defeated the BJP but as the situation stands today, the opposition has given a walkover to the BJP.”
Dushyant retorted by alleging that Dalal was an INLD member. “I have great respect for the khaps and its leaders but Dalal was not the right person to head any mediation move,” Dushyant said. “He is an active member of the INLD and not an independent person. How can we trust somebody who is with the INLD to think of our interests?”
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