New Delhi: Frictions have surfaced in the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-Jannayak Janata Party (BJP-JJP) alliance in Haryana, with the latest trigger being the upcoming Adampur Assembly bypoll, where JJP leaders have complained about being conspicuously omitted from campaign posters. What’s more, there’s no mention of the JJP in the BJP’s social media campaign for the 2024 Haryana polls either.
Adding to the consternation of Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala and other JJP leaders is “poaching” from the party’s ranks and a closed-door meeting between BJP leaders and Independent MLAs.
Where the 3 November Adampur bypoll is concerned, the JJP has more than one reason to be miffed. One is the JJP’s absence from campaign materials, and the second is that the BJP is fielding Bhavya Bishnoi, who is the son of Kuldeep Bishnoi. The Adampur bypoll was necessitated as Kuldeep left the Congress and joined the BJP in August.
Adampur falls in Hisar district which is central to Haryana’s three influential political families of Bhajan Lal, Devi Lal, and Bansi Lal. The Bishnois are scions of Bhajan Lal and the Chautalas of Devi Lal.
Bhajan Lal’s son Kuldeep Bishnoi had defeated Ajay Chautala, who is Devi Lal’s grandson and Dushyant’s father, in the 2011 Hisar Lok Sabha bypoll. Dushyant had avenged his father’s defeat in the 2014 general election when he trounced Bishnoi.
Another grouse for the JJP is that it has been left out of the social media campaign launched by the BJP IT cell last week for the 2024 Haryana Assembly elections.
“Haryana nae thana sai, tisari bar Manohar lana sai (Haryana is determined to bring Manohar for the third time),” reads one of the posters.
Other posters feature photos of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Khattar, with the tagline “Manohar Mahara Haryana (Manohar is our Haryana)”, making it amply clear that the Haryana Chief Minister will be the face of the poll campaign.
JJP general secretary Digvijay Chautala, who is the Deputy CM’s younger brother, objected to the exclusion of the party symbol and photos of party leaders in campaign materials when both parties were in the ruling alliance in Haryana.
“It is astonishing considering that we are running a coalition government but there is no photo of the alliance partner in the campaign materials,” Digvijay told ThePrint.
In the 90-member Haryana Assembly, the BJP is the senior ruling ally with 40 MLAs, while the JJP has 10 legislators. The Congress (31), Independents (7), the Indian National Lok Dal (1) and the Haryana Lokhit Party (1) make up the rest.
JJP chief spokesperson Deepkamal Saharan told ThePrint that photos of the Chautalas and the party flag were used in the previous two bypolls in Haryana.
“In Baroda [assembly constituency] where wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt lost to the Congress [candidate in 2020], Dushyant had campaigned for the BJP. Even in Ellenabad [in 2021], Dushyant Chautala campaigned for the BJP… But there is no such coordination for this [Adampur] bypoll until now. Kuldeep Bishnoi has not sought our support [either],” he added.
After the JJP’s complaints, a few posters have come out now with a photo of Dushyant alongside BJP leaders.
Downplaying speculation of differences arising in the alliance, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said Monday that local leaders may have published the campaign material but “the BJP and the JJP are unitedly fighting in Adampur”.
Also Read: Bishnoi’s son in Adampur, Rajgopal Reddy in Munugode — BJP fields Congress rebels for bypolls
‘Poaching’ of leaders alarms JJP
Campaign imagery is not the only cause of ire in JJP circles. On 16 September, the BJP inducted Dushyant’s special secretary Mahesh Chauhan along with 150-plus JJP workers and district working committee members into the party.
Chauhan was associated with the Chautalas for more than 20 years and was in charge of a few districts, including Rohtak — the home turf of Congress veteran and former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
“I was a JJP founder member, but I was willing to work for national parties and was influenced by PM Modi. So, I decided to join the BJP with my supporters,” he told ThePrint.
What further alarmed the JJP is BJP’s state in-charge Biplab Kumar Deb meeting with six Independent MLAs, who support the Manohar Khattar government, where they reportedly suggested ending the alliance with the Chautalas.
In a tweet, the Haryana BJP said that Deb met the Independent MLAs in the presence of the state Assembly Speaker Gian Chand Gupta.
प्रदेश प्रभारी श्री @BjpBiplab जी ने भाजपा के समर्थित निर्दलीय विधायकों के साथ बैठक की।इस मौक़े पर विधानसभा अध्यक्ष श्री @GianChandBjp जी भी उपस्थित रहें। pic.twitter.com/5aE68Mj3ZK
— Haryana BJP (@BJP4Haryana) October 7, 2022
BJP state president Om Prakash Dhankar had to come out before the media to say that the alliance with JJP was “rock solid” after Digvijay reacted sharply to the suggestion purportedly floated by the Independents.
“Dushyant is cautious about the BJP’s intention. Recently, he removed Narwana MLA Ramniwas Surjakhera from the post of Khadi and Village Industries Board chairman as he was singing the tune of BJP and praising Khattar,” a JJP insider told ThePrint.
“We know how the BJP dumped its partners in other states and split alliances. So, we are careful. In an alliance, there should be a decorum of at least not poaching each other’s MLAs and leaders. The Independent MLAs praise Dushyant when they meet him, and sing a different tune before the BJP leadership,” the insider added.
Earlier developments, too, have fuelled suspicions in the JJP about the BJP’s designs. In the Haryana civic polls held in June, the BJP first decided to contest on its own but later did a volte face to fight together with the JJP.
There is now the possibility of the JJP and the BJP squaring off in the Haryana panchayat polls with the latter deciding not to contest the elections of panch, sarpanch, and member of block samitis on the party symbol. Voting for panch and sarpanch will be held on 2 November, while that of block samiti and zila parishad begins 30 October.
Last month, BJP chief J.P. Nadda visited Haryana and asked the state leadership to form a coordination committee for ironing out differences among the alliance partners. The panel, however, is yet to be formed.
When asked about conflicts between the alliance partners, BJP state general secretary Vedpal said there was no acrimony, but added that all parties have their ambitions.
“Every party has the right to expand their footsteps. There is no such bitterness in our relationship. … Dushyant regularly interacts with the Chief Minister on important issues,” he told ThePrint.
In private, though, a BJP leader conceded that the JJP’s support was crucial when the farmers’ agitation of 2020-21 was at its peak but things are now different. The JJP is primarily a party of Jat farmers with its core voter-base in Haryana’s rural belts.
“The BJP has taken several steps, including appointing Jats as Vice President [Jagdeep Dhankhar] and Uttar Pradesh BJP chief [Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary] to smoothen ties with the community. There is time to take this decision [to fight in alliance or go alone],” the BJP leader told ThePrint.
(Edited by Tony Rai)
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