A risky gamble, a brash solo charge and even betrayal is how the BJP’s move to go alone in Haryana was described by its allies and adversaries alike. But the saffron party, gung-ho after its stunning showing in the Lok Sabha polls, did not budge. After all, the gamble paid off.
The party’s resounding victory will not only silence its critics, but also show that the BJP’s win in the parliamentary polls was not a flash in the pan. A fringe player dependent on established local players for decades, the party, powered by its principal campaigner, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has swept the traditional stronghold of the Congress, tearing down all opposition.
Modi does it, again
In a repeat of the Lok Sabha elections, the BJP ran a Modi-centric campaign, matching rival parties with an aggressive media blitzkrieg. Modi, backed by BJP president Amit Shah’s micro-management skills, addressed rallies in every nook and corner of the state.
His presence, underpinned by the party’s campaign theme, “Modi ke saath”, made even two-time CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda of the Congress remark that Modi was campaigning as if he was fighting for the CM’s post.
Not that Modi had any choice. Though the party has half-a-dozen aspirants for the CM’s post, nobody has a compelling electoral record and pan-Haryana pull.
The saffron surge
The scale of triumph of the BJP, whose appeal was largely limited to urban dwellers and middle classes hitherto, reflects a groundswell of support. While it has expanded its core vote-bank in urban areas, the saffron party has found support in substantial swathes of semi-urban and rural constituencies in different parts of the state. The BJP has swept north Haryana, Ahirwal and Gurgaon, besides making inroads into Bagar (Sirsa and Fatehabad) and Bangar (Jind).
Dera and defectors
While the BJP got widespread support from non-Jats, especially the upper castes, the new “converts to saffron” (read turncoats) and controversial Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda’s open support helped the party make find some support among Jats and Dalits.