After its exceptional performance in the Lok Sabha polls in Haryana, a rejuvenated-like-never-before BJP is raring to go in its quest for power in the state assembly polls. The assembly polls, as per the schedule, will be held some time in October 2014.
Going by their performance and the confidence, the saffron party is keen to test the political waters in the state assembly on its own. Its alliance with Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) looks shaky and fragile after HJC’s poor showing in the general elections.
Having wrested seven out of the eight Lok Sabha seats it contested and with leads in 53 out of 90 assembly segments, the BJP leaders in Haryana are buoyant over party’s assembly poll prospects.
However, the million dollar question, which will be critical to BJP’s political strategy and prospects is — whether it has the potential and political muscle to replicate, even somewhat, the leads it took in the 53 assembly segments, on its own.
A close look at the assembly segment wise leads reveals that the saffron party has done well in Jat-dominated constituencies, which are primarily considered to be the strongholds of either the Congress or the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
The BJP, in fact, has got leads from about 15 assembly se gments, which can be termed as purely Jat-dominated ones. This should be a cause of worry for the Congress and INLD who won these assembly seats in the 2009 Vidhan Sabha polls.
Also, the influence of the two parties in segments dominated by other castes seems to have lessened — the complete wipeout in Ambala and Karnal Lok Sabha seats is an example.
But political analysts feel that this swing in favour of the BJP in Jat-dominated seats was primarily due to the Modi wave. “When it comes to the assembly polls, will this euphoria survive? Will Modi still be a decisive factor?” says an analyst.
The profiling of Jat dominated segments also show that the community has supported those candidate — be it from Congress, INLD or the BJP — whose winning prospects were considered higher. The emphatic win of Congress candidate Deepender Hooda in Rohtak and narrow but impressive victory of INLD’s Dushyant Chautala in Hisar proves this.
The debutant Chautala in fact won the election despite losing to HJC’s Kuldeep Bishnoi in six assembly se gments. The Jats in Hisar actually polarised behind Chautala as the first-timer gained a lead of over 1.2 lakh in three Jat dominant segments of Uchana Kalan, Narnaund and Uklana to win the poll. Similarly, Deepender got impressive leads in most of the Jat segments and won handsomely despite suffering a 42,000 vote loss in Ahir dominated Kosli segment.
The BJP’s main worry before the battle lines for the assembly elections are drawn is to search for candidates for all the 90 assembly seats. The party, which contested eight Lok Sabha seats from Haryana found it hard to get credible faces for candidature. There were only three core saffron leaders — OP Dhankhar (Rohtak), KP Gujjar (Faridabad) and RL Kataria (Ambala) —in the BJP lineup. The rest comprised three former Congressmen — Rao Inderjit Singh (Gurgaon), Dharambir Singh (Bhiwani-Mahendergarh) and Ramesh Kaushik (Sonepat); party hopper Rajkumar Balmiki (Kurukshetra) and para trooper, Ashwani Chopra (Karnal) of the Punjab Kesri group.
“If a tie-up happens, it will be a post-poll tie-up. The non-Congress parties (read the INLD) will not have any option but to support the BJP in the event of the party falling short of majority,” said a BJP leader.
Sensing a strong undercurrent against Jats in Haryana, the BJP entered into a poll alliance with the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), a party once believed to be the torch bearer of non-Jats in the state.
With the exception of Capt Abhimanyu and now Cong ress deser ter, Dharambir Singh, the BJP does not have powerful Jat leaders. If voted to power in Haryana, the saffron party in all probability would like to put a non-Jat leader at the helm. “But after getting the surprise support of Jats in Lok Sabha polls, does the BJP have the nerve to project a nonJat leader as its chief ministerial candidate in the state,” asks a Haryana watcher who did not wish to be named.
BJP insiders say the party was unlikely to project anyone as the CM candidate and thus keep the voters guessing.