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Election brings big shock for BJP as all but two Haryana ministers bite the dust

The BJP in Haryana is said to have paid the price for making a national issue like the scrapping of Article 370 one of its chief poll planks.

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Chandigarh: Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar was Thursday preparing to stake claim to form the government but the election verdict has come as an indictment of not only his model of governance but also the BJP’s electoral strategy. 

Barring the chief minister and the controversial Anil Vij, all ministers lost the elections — Capt Abhimanyu from Narnaund, Ram Bilas Sharma from Mahendragarh, O.P. Dhankar from Badli, Krishan Lal Panwar from Israna, Kavita Jain from Sonepat, K.K. Bedi from Shahbad and Manish Grover from Rohtak. 

While Jain has lost by over 33,000 votes, the margins for Panwar, Abhimany and Sharma stand at 20,000, 12,000, and 9,000, respectively.

Haryana BJP chief Subhash Barala lost as well, to the JJP’s Devender Singh Babli from Tohana, by over 52,000 votes, the second-highest victory margin in this election. 

The results came as a setback to Khattar, who was earlier expected to sweep the polls, especially as the party had secured 58.21 per cent of the state’s vote in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

The voteshare is likely to come down by over 20 percentage points this assembly election, indicating that the massive surge in support for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections was on account of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and didn’t mark a permanent shift in state politics. 

The party’s voteshare this time could, however, be marginally better than the 33.2 per cent it secured in 2014.

Khattar, a Punjabi Khatri, was earlier credited with what analysts called a non-Jat consolidation of votes. An analysis of assembly election results showed that while a section of Jats who had voted for Modi in the Lok Sabha elections switched their loyalty back to their traditional political patrons — the Congress, the INLD and its splinter group, the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) — and there was no consolidation of non-Jat votes. 

Also Read: Do Maharashtra and Haryana election results show that the opposition is not dead in India?

Bringing national issues to states

While the election does put a big question mark on Khattar’s governance, political observers and analysts are of the view that he alone cannot be blamed for the below-par performance of the party. 

He has been accused of being an uninspiring leader, but there was not a single big scandal during his tenure and the end of corruption in recruitments also earned his government praise from the people, as ground reports during the elections suggested. 

What seemed to have hit the BJP the most was its central leadership’s decision to make the nullification of Article 370 and other national issues the main poll planks.

Against a target of 75 seats, confidently projected by BJP chief Amit Shah himself, the BJP has been restricted to 40 seats (as of 8 pm, leading in four and winner of 36), which is six short of the majority mark. 

Meanwhile, the Congress, which handed its campaign to former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda at the eleventh hour, has defied all pollsters to double its tally from 15 in 2014 to over 30. 

But the biggest winner of this election has been the JJP, headed by the young Dushyant Chautala — the party has won 10 seats in its maiden assembly election while his jailed grandfather O.P. Chautala’s INLD has been reduced to one. In the hung assembly scenario now hanging over Haryana, Dushyant is likely to prove the kingmaker.

Jat-land losses

The BJP is likely to retain only 26 of the 47 seats it won in 2014, while winning over a dozen new ones. Among these 26 too, however, only 18 are old faces.

Its loss has been gravest in the Jat heartland, where its seats have gone to the Congress and the JJP amid an apparent retaliation by the community against the BJP’s consolidation of non-Jat votes to end their political supremacy. 

It has been wiped out in Jhajjar, with all the four seats going to the Congress, and has also failed to register a win in Rohtak, where the Congress has taken three seats and an Independent has got the fourth. 

Four of the six seats in Sonepat have also been bagged by the Congress, with the BJP left with two. These three districts were the epicentre of the Jats’ violent agitation for reservation in February 2016.

Among other Jat-dominated districts, the BJP has won one seat in Jind, with the JJP emerging as the star of the show here. The BJP won three out of seven seats in Hisar, with the JJP (three seats) and the Congress winning the remaining four, and three of six seats in Bhiwani (Congress, JJP and an Independent bagged the rest). 

The only exception is Mahendragarh, where the BJP won three of four seats.

With the exception of Khattar’s home district Karnal, the BJP has lost vital seats in non-Jat districts too — including two each in Ambala, Yamunanagar and Kurukshetra. 

Of the 27 seats across the seven non-jat districts of Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Karnal and Panipat, the BJP has secured 15 seats, against 22 in 2014. 

Also Read: BJP set for victories in Maharashtra & Haryana but something has changed for Modi voters


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  1. Haryana may go to wherever……. WhereIndia is going matters and that is sad to think about’ The media callas Modi popularity and each time they refer to that and put his photo on the front page as apparently required, they get some more life. So sad a life to be a journalist. It is called selling your soul????

  2. The whole cannot be very much more than the sum of its parts. Selection criteria should be angled more towards governance acumen.

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