Haryana has been third time lucky in 2014 — after 2004 and 2009 — to get a majority government, this time to be run by the BJP, which has also announced that its chief minister will be Manohar Lal Khattar.
This is no small achievement for a state that gave birth to the phrase Aaya Ram, Gaya Ram, alluding to floor crossing. Fractured verdicts can be harmful for a small state such as Haryana because the possibilities of political realignments are limited.
While his party’s majority makes Mr Khattar’s task of governance a little easier, he has to pay attention to a range of issues to justify the mandate for the BJP.
The first challenge before Mr Khattar is to govern a state in which the BJP has never really been in power, except as a junior partner. Mr Khattar is originally from Punjab whereas the Jats have been dominant in Haryana. Here it may be necessary to rewrite power equations. With the khap panchayats wielding a lot of authority in their traditional bastions, with their own value systems and law codes, confrontation with the state is a distinct possibility, something the previous government learnt to its discomfiture.
Next is the dismal power situation, particularly in Gurgaon, where the BJP swept all seats. Transmission and distribution losses in Haryana are as high as 40% in many areas, and theft is a major problem. This can be a crippling factor for a state which has key industrial hubs at Gurgaon, Manesar and Faridabad.
Given the fact that the ‘Make in India’ campaign is gaining momentum, any shortcoming on the power front can be only to Haryana’s detriment.
Mr Khattar also needs to pay attention to real estate, which has of late come into disrepute because of the bungling of the Haryana State Infrastructure and Industrial Development Corporation, which is asking plot owners in various places to fork out additional payment for land that was allotted a decade ago.
As this sector does not have a regulator, it is all the more important for the state government to tread cautiously.
Unlike many other states, Haryana has been relatively free from sectarian violence. But disgruntled elements in many parties can now foment trouble. Failure to maintain social harmony is the first thing that can besmirch the record of any government.
Mr Khattar’s non-controversial image can greatly assist in keeping trouble-makers at bay.