The Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) is struggling to stay relevant in the state politics after being dumped and humiliated by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), its ally for three years.
Party supremo Kuldeep Bishnoi, however, is still hoping for an oasis in the desert.
After the 2009 assembly elections, five out of six of HJC MLAs rebelled against Bishnoi and joined chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to bail out his government. The switchover took place when Bishnoi was bargaining with Hooda but his MLAs ditched him. After HJC’s loss in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, ally BJP “humiliated” Bishnoi before he called off the alliance.
The HJC wanted to field its candidate from Karnal in the recent Lok Sabha elections and had even named former deputy chief minister Chander Mohan, elder brother of Bishnoi and four-time MLA from Kalka, but it had to leave seat for the BJP. The HJC had to shift to Sirsa, where it came third.
When Bishnoi wanted to induct Venod Sharma into the party, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj objected to it and he had to dump the idea.
Recently, he was not called to BJP president Amit Shah’s rally at Mahendergarh and also to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public meeting at Kaithal. Upbeat after winning seven out of eight seats it contested in the state in the recent Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had made up its mind to show Bishnoi his place, who had been “dreaming” of becoming chief minister. Even the state BJP leaders kept on issuing statements against Bishnoi’s demand of 45 assembly seats to contest in the upcoming assembly elections.
Finally, Bishnoi blinked first and called off the alliance with the BJP and announced a tie-up with Venod Sharma’s Haryana Jan Chetna Party (HJCP).
Plummeting vote share
After leaving the Congress, former chief minister Bhajan Lal and his son Kuldeep Bishnoi had formed the HJC. But in successive elections, the party’s vote share started dwindling. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the HJC contested on 10 seats and won from Hisar only. It secured 10.01% of the total votes. It contested 87 out of 90 assembly seats in 2009, but managed to win six seats. This time vote percentage shrunk to 7.4 %. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it contested two seats and lost both, while managing to bag 6.1% votes.
In the upcoming assembly elections, Bishnoi’s hopes are clinging on non-Jat votes. But the BJP and Gopal Kanda’s Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP) are also eyeing the same piece of cake.
The influence of the HJC is limited to the Hisar and Karnal area. Even in defeat from Hisar seat, Bishnoi was ahead of his rival Indian National Lok Dal’s Dushyant Chautala in six out of nine assembly seats – Adampur, Hansi, Barwala, Hisar, Nalwa and Bhiwani. But that was in alliance with the BJP under the Modi wave. In Sirsa, its candidate Sushil Indora was ahead of rivals only in Fatehabad assembly segment.
Bishnoi has been raising issues of bias in development and government jobs though the BJP and Kanda have also been raising the same issues. Right now, he could hope at best for a hung assembly, which would make him relevant even with seats in single digit.