A multi cornered contest is in the offing for the 90 assembly seats in poll-bound Haryana with six parties — the Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), the BJP, the HJC-HJCP combine, the BSP and Haryana Lokhit Party (HLP) battling it out.
A tentative analysis of seat wise contests after the filing of nominations suggests that the three political majors — the Congress, the BJP and the INLD each are essentially in contest in only 45 to 55 seats.
While the situation may alter once the poll campaigning picks up, the provisional analysis hints at the possibility of a split verdict.
The situation on the ground also looks fluid. The BJP whose resurgence in Haryana after a superb Lok Sabha outing and subsequent ensnaring of disgruntled Congress and INLD leaders had positioned them as major challenger to the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) seems to be struggling now. The saffron party has been hit by internal strife after it preferred Congress and INLD turncoats over the party workers for party tickets.
The BJP also could not find credible Jat faces from its own ranks. Of the 25 Jat candidates fielded, 19 were given to Congress and INLD deserters.
BJP’s over-reliance on Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah could also prove to be its undoing. There is fair amount of concern in the party after Shah’s two-day tour of Haryana evoked a rather tepid response. The saffron party is now heavily betting on PM Modi’s election rallies.
Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD — which is looking upbeat after Chautala’s appearance at a recent rally in Jind — banks heavily on the charisma of the former chief minister. The INLD is probably going through its worst phase after the sentencing of Chautala and his elder son, Ajay Singh for 10 years in the JBT teachers recruitment scam. It remains to be seen whether Chautala, who is presently out on medical bail, will be able to comprehensively campaign for the party. His presence during the poll campaign may substantially polarise the Jat vote-bank.
The ruling Congress, which looked in shambles after the Lok Sabha debacle, is trying to get its act together on the strength of slew of sops it has offered to various sections of the society, virtually draining the exchequer.
Nine years of anti incumbency apart, the Congress has also been hit by a series of desertions and incessant infighting which may culminate in sabotage.
Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar have sparred over the choice of poll candidates. Moreover, retaining about 33 sitting MLAs as party candidates will not help the party’s cause in trying to get over the anti incumbency sentiment.