If the Lok Sabha elections was a time to sow for khap (social administration system) leaders, the upcoming assembly contests in Haryana is the hour to reap. From political supporters, they have turned ticket aspirants.
Kurukshetra college teacher Santosh Dahiya, president of the Sarv Khap Mahapanchayat women’s wing, who until now claimed to have no political ambitions, is the Indian National Lok Dal candidate from Beri.
Dahiya, who is an Ahlawat — which is one of the biggest Jat gotras in the assembly segment, said she joined politics to take up causes like “prohibition during elections and abolition of the veil system in villages”.
Then there is Sudesh Chaudhary, who first made headlines when appointed the first woman president of Hisar’s Satrol khap — which wields influence in 42 villages, and next when she joined the BJP after failing to get an INLD ticket for Badli or Narnaund.
The first BJP list declares Aithgama khap leader Shamsher Kharkara as party candidate for the Meham seat. Om Prakash Dhankar of Dhankar khap, a Jat reservation worker who used to boast of links with the Congress, joined the BJP to support his senior namesake who will run from Badli. The self-styled Dhankar-khap chief had applied for the Aam Aadmi Party ticket for the Lok Sabha election in Rohtak.
In August, Kandela Khap chief Tek Ram Kandela, campaigner against female foeticide and advocate of implementing the MS Swaminathan Commission report for agricultural reforms, joined the Congress and is demanding a ticket for the Jind assembly seat, claiming a clout in 28 villages.
Baljit Singh, chief of one of the biggest khaps (Malik), who joined the BJP, now claims a ticket from either Gohana or Baroda.
Jat Mahasabha president Om Prakash Maan has also joined the saffron party and asked to be candidate in Bhiwani.
Sangwan khap acting chief Jorawar Sangwan is with Congress cabinet minister Kiran Choudhry, while Jat reservation movement leader commandant Hawa Singh Sangwan has urged the community to back chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.
As khap leaders are appointed, not elected, their influence is not as wide as they claim. Defending khap leaders’ political aspirations, Tek Ram Kandela said all khaps had passed a resolution unanimously to seek candidature to able to fight for the rights of girls and farmers.