Haryana’s principal Opposition party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), finished with 19 seats in the assembly polls on Sunday, the third successive defeat for the regional party.
Coming down from 31 seats in 2009, the party seen as an alternative to Jat voters, was all but wiped out in the state’s Jat heartland, failing to register even a single win in from 13 districts including Rohtak, Sonepat and Jhajjar.
The sharp fall in the INLD numbers showed that voters, who had made up their minds to overthrow the ruling Congress, chose to put their faith in the BJP instead of the regional power, which spent the past 10 years doing little except highlight issues of corruption in the government.
Compared with that, the Narendra Modi-led BJP’s promise of good governance and better opportunities seemed like a positive alternative.
The party’s future seems uncertain with important leaders losing their seats. INLD’s youngest MP from Hisar, Dushyant Chautala, who lost to the BJP’s Prem Lata, wife of former Congress stalwart Birender Singh in Uchana Kalan by 7,000 votes is bound to rankle much after the initial shock has registered. Chautala won the Lok Sabha polls from the same constituency with a margin of over 50,000 votes.
Another issue that’s bound to raise questions is the humiliating defeat of state president Ashok Arora to the BJP’s Subhash Sudha in Thanesar by over 25,000 votes.
There are more reasons for the INLD to worry. The party had recently won two of 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state despite a strong Modi wave and was expecting a much better show in the assembly polls.
It was also banking on a sympathy wave after party chief Om Prakash Chautala and his eldest son Ajay Chautala were sent to jail in a teachers recruitment scam.
After Sunday’s verdict, the party founded by former deputy prime minister Devi Lal, has its task cut out as it battles for relevance until the next assembly polls. With Sunday’s saffron surge, the task seems to have just gotten uphill.