The poll outcome of the seven newly-created municipal corporations in Haryana has not brought cheer to the two main opposition parties in the state the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Both parties contested the elections on respective party symbols, hoping to capitalise on the anti-incumbency factor against the ruling Congress. The Congress and Kuldeep Bishnoi's Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) did not contest these polls on party symbols.
An analysis of the results indicate that a number of Independents either backed by or owing allegiance to the Congress have won and outnumbered their INLD and BJP rivals in Rohtak, Hisar, Karnal, Panipat, Panchkula and Ambala. The only solace the opposition parties can derive is from the results of the Yamunanagar municipal corporation, where the BJP may get its mayor.
Political experts, however, say there will several permutations and combinations by the time the councillors actually get to elect the mayors.
"There would be plenty of horse trading since the Independents are actually in majority at most of the places. However, the Congress, being the party in power, will definitely have an upper hand in most of the corporations," said an analyst.
While sitting MLAs seem to have played an important role in these polls, it remains to be seen how much sway they would be able to exercise to wrest control of these corporations by getting their mayoral candidates in the saddle.
Though much should not be read into the outcome of these elections in terms of their impact on the 2014 Lok Sabha and Haryana assembly polls, the BJP and the INLD need not lose heart. Overall, the BJP won 25 seats seven in Yamunanagar, six in Panipat, four in Ambala, three each in Panchkula and Karnal, two in Rohtak and none in Hisar.
The INLD's tally of 16 seats does not seem outstanding, but not much was expected from a party which does not have much penetration in urban centres. The party, which has an INLD MLA (Dilbagh Singh) in Yamunanagar, could win only four seats as compared to the BJP, which got seven on the party symbol.
The INLD won four seats each in Hisar and Yamunanagar, three in Panchkula, two each in Karnal and Panipat, one in Rohtak and none in Ambala.
The role of HJC-backed Independents who won their seats will be minimal. The HJC has an electoral alliance with the BJP for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections. But it did not contest the local bodies' polls on the party symbol.
At several places, HJC-backed candidates were pitted against the BJP candidates. And in the present scenario, the HJC-backed Independents would not be able to help the BJP much. While three HJC-backed candidates won in Hisar, the BJP drew a blank. In Karnal, the lone HJC-backed candidate won and just three candidates from the BJP could register a win.
As expected, the Congress has started claiming most of the Independents as their own to capture the mayoral seats in these corporations. Being the party in power is likely to help its cause.