The BJP and the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) on Monday played down the role of Team Anna’s anti-Congress campaign in Hisar, in the victory of the alliance candidate Kuldeep Bishnoi in the bypoll by a margin of over 6,000 votes.
While Bishnoi had backed Team Anna’s Jan Lokpal campaign in the run-up to the Hisar bypoll, sensing sympathy for Anna Hazare’s campaign — as had INLD’s Ajay Singh Chautala — the HJC-BJP have taken care not to endorse the perception that Team Anna has electoral impact, so as not to cede their political space to it.
The election, in which Team Anna had actively campaigned against the Congress, was being widely seen as a referendum on the electoral impact of Hazare’s campaign for a strong Lokpal Bill. While there was a tough fight between Bishnoi and Chautala, Congress’ Jai Prakash faced a massive electoral defeat.
On whether he saw the result as a victory for Hazare, BJP national spokesperson Shahnawaz Husain said, “This is a victory for Hisar, for the people of India and for all anti-corruption forces in the country.”
On whether he would give credit to Team Anna for defeat of the Congress, Husain said, “Team Anna had not appealed for anyone’s victory. The credit for the Congress’ debacle goes to every anti-corruption voice. But the victory is of the BJP-HJC alliance.” The Hisar result, as also of Khadakwasla near Pune, which the BJP won in alliance with Shiv Sena and RPI, reflected that people had rejected a “corrupt” Congress, he claimed.
The Congress was quick to dismiss suggestions that Team Anna played any role in its defeat.
“It was not a Congress stronghold. We got the third place in the last elections. In elections, victory or defeat is a common thing,” party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said.