Chandigarh: Almost a year after the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) split, its breakaway faction, the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP), appears to have swayed the party’s core vote bank— Jats.
Riding on Jat support, JJP candidates were leading on least 12 seats (CNN News18) as of 12.15 pm, cementing the party’s position as a strong third player in the assembly elections.
The early trends indicate that the JJP chief, former MP Dushyant Chautala, will emerge as the kingmaker as the state looks set for a hung assembly. As of 12.15 pm, the ruling BJP was leading in 36 seats and the Congress in 33 seats.
The majority mark is 46 in the 90-member Haryana assembly.
JJP ensures triangular contests
The JJP, led by Dushyant Chautala, has clearly upset the BJP and Congress calculations on several seats.
Dushyant himself was leading in Uchana Kalan where he was up against BJP state president Subhash Barala, who had won the seat in 2014 by almost 7,000 votes.
The presence of JJP candidates had made the contest triangular on several seats in the state and was expected to play the biggest spoiler. The results have vindicated that belief.
Apart from the Jat belt seats of Jind, Badhra, Julana, Uchana, Narwana and Tohana and Uklana where the JJP candidates are leading, the party is providing a tough fight to Congress and BJP candidates in Gohana, Baroda, Rai, Ghanaur, Ratia, Narnaund, Hansi, Loharu, Barwala, Charkhi Dadri among others.
In one of its high-profile leads, the JJP’s Ram Kumar Gautam, a former BJP MLA from Narnaund, is leading from the constituency, ahead of the state finance minister Captain Abhimanyu.
Party reclaiming Jat vote
The JJP is a breakaway of the INLD headed by former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala who is in jail with his elder son Ajay, both sentenced to 10 years in the JBT teachers recruitment scam.
The INLD was being run by Chautala’s younger son Abhay, but rising political ambitions led to an ugly battle for supremacy that prompted Dushyant (who is Ajay’s son) and Abhay to part ways.
The INLD split had a suicidal impact on its electoral fortunes. Its vote share in the parliamentary elections nosedived from 24 per cent in 2014 to 1.8 per cent this time.
In state elections, the party is leading in just two of the 90 seats.
The JJP, meanwhile, is benefitting from the INLD struggling to stay afloat. It fared better than the INLD in the Lok Sabha polls, getting about 6 per cent of the votes, but that was little solace as the BJP swept the elections. Dushyant had also lost his MP seat, Hisar, to the BJP.
The possible kingmaker
For the assembly polls, however, the Jat voter, who had largely voted for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, appears to have sided with the JJP rather than the INLD.
The JJP has only grown stronger since the split and Dushyant is popular among the Jat youth. He is considered to have a hold on the pulse of the state’s voter.
“Abhay Chautala is an egoistic leader. No one liked his dictatorial style of functioning. Dushyant, on the other hand, is young and a visionary. Jats see the reflection of tau Devi Lal in him,” said Mukesh Kumar in Kalayat.
The JJP was confident that it would cause a serious dent in Haryana politics in these elections. “On seats where BJP or Congress candidates dominate, JJP was forcing voters to assess the personalities, claims and achievements of these candidates. If the BJP’s candidate is not good enough, JJP will cut into BJP’s votes giving Congress the fillip and vice-versa,” said Satish Saini, a shop owner in Pehowa.
Unlike the Lok Sabha polls where it had a pre-poll alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the JJP went solo in these elections. It attempted to tie up with the BSP but that failed.
“JJP might not be able to form the government but it will be in a strong position to ally with another party after the elections to be a part of the government,” said Sat Kumar, a Uchana Kalan resident.