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Non-Jat unity did it, not Anna

columns Updated: Oct 17, 2011 23:36 IST
Pankaj Vohra

The great significance of the Hisar Lok Sabha by poll is that it has made Kuldeep Bishnoi — son of late Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal — the tallest and most acceptable non-Jat leader in the state.

Also noteworthy is that his victory over nearest rival Ajay Chautala of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has established that it was a consolidation of non-Jat votes rather than the role played by Team Anna.

For the Congress, the result has one major surprise that its candidate Jai Prakash lost his deposit. This huge loss together with defeats in assembly by polls in four other states means the party needs to review its future strategy.

Even though detractors of chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda may try to put the blame on him, it is very clear that it is the collective failure of all party leaders from the state to turn the tide in a constituency which in 2009 had elected Kuldeep’s father Bhajan Lal. The overall perception against the Central government’s inability to control prices and combat corruption has also gone against it.

The Hisar result is a great morale booster for young Kuldeep whose victory makes him a player for the centre stage in Haryana. This is the second time, he has achieved an almost impossible feat. The first was in 2004 when as the Congress candidate from Bhiwani, the home constituency of late chief minister Bansi Lal, he defeated his son, late Surinder Singh and Ajay Chautala in a triangular fight.

This time the win has been equally commendable and he has vanquished Ajay Chautala and the combined might of the Congress. Many political analysts feel that after 16 years of continuous Jat rule in the state starting from Bansi Lal to Om Prakash Chautala to Hooda, the electorate decided to throw its weight behind Kuldeep as the face of non-Jats.

This could make him the rallying point for the non-Jats in Haryana and the result could also benefit the INLD which will consolidate its position amongst Jats at the expense of the Congress. His victory will further give his ally, the BJP — till now a marginal player in Haryana — a foothold to look for better results in the next Parliamentary polls.

For Kuldeep, the advantage of being the non-Jat face of the state will be that unlike tall Jat leaders who have their writ running in specified areas, he can expand his base to even non-Jat zones like his late father.

The result may lead to demands for a change but changing Hooda can possibly lead to either the collapse of the government or a mid-term poll and further consolidation of Jats behind Chautala's INLD.