Battling 10 years of anti-incumbency and a spate of desertions, the Congress is banking on the breakdown in seat-sharing talks between the BJP and the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) to put up a “decent show” in the upcoming assembly elections in Haryana.
Congress strategists are of the view that the contest would be thrown wide open if the BJP and the HJC part ways ahead of the polls. In such a scenario, there will be multi-cornered fight on almost each of the total 90 seats with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) already being another serious contender for power and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) playing spoiler in many constituencies.
“We will stay relevant only if there is division of anti-incumbency votes,” a senior Congress leader said. “It is otherwise a tough contest for us.”
The Congress’ hopes stem from the fact that there has been some trouble in the BJP-HJC alliance in the recent past. While HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnoi was not invited for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally at Kaithal last week, the BJP also rejected its claim on half – 45 – seats. The BJP leadership has cited the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections in which the HJC lost the two seats it contested, including Bishnoi from Hisar.
On the other hand, the BJP is keen on fighting maximum seats. Fresh from its stupendous victory in general elections, the party is confident of maintaining its winning streak in assembly polls riding on the perceived Modi wave.
This is perhaps first time that the BJP is in contention for power in Haryana since the formation of the state in 1966. Till now, the Congress and the INLD – previously Lok Dal — have dominated the state politics.
Sensing an opportunity, Congress sources suggested that the party has opened “some lines of communication” with the HJC.