Banking on turncoats to seek turn of fortunes
Riding on the shoulders of rebel Congress leaders who have recently taken on a saffron hue to contest the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying hard to make its presence felt in Haryana. As it does not have leaders with a mass base in various regions and communities, it may actually improve on its 2009 tally of zero by accommodating such outsiders.punjab Updated: Mar 21, 2014 09:42 IST
Riding on the shoulders of rebel Congress leaders who have recently taken on a saffron hue to contest the Lok Sabha elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is trying hard to make its presence felt in Haryana. As it does not have leaders with a mass base in various regions and communities, it may actually improve on its 2009 tally of zero by accommodating such outsiders.
From Gurgaon, prominent Ahir leader Rao Inderjit Singh, the sitting MP, has recently switched loyalties from the Congress to contest on the BJP ticket. Other such former Congress leaders for the BJP include Dharambir Singh (Bhiwani-Mahindergarh) and Ramesh Kaushik (Sonepat).
While BJP’s old warhorse Rattan Lal Kataria (left) is still active, the party is relying on defectors such
as Rao Inderjit Singh (right) to make its presence felt in Haryana, besides pinning hopes on the ‘Modi wave’.
However, the BJP has seen protest from within the rank and file not only for fielding political turncoats but also against its homegrown leaders like Om Prakash Dhankar from Rohtak. The party’s choice in Kurukshetra, Raj Kumar Saini, a political turncoat from Ambala, has also not been welcomed by the BJP leaders.
Leaders like Pradeep Sangwan, son of the late Sonepat parliamentarian Kishan Singh Sangwan, have quit the party in protest. Prominent leader of the Ror community, Maratha Virender Verma, has quit, too, and is now contesting on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket after the BJP gave the Karnal seat to partner Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC).
In Karnal, veteran BJP leader and former union minister ID Swami had also written a protest letter to the state leadership and urged to convene an emergency meeting to ensure damage-control in all constituencies.
Ambala, however, has the BJP’s old warhorse Rattan Lal Kataria, a known Dalit face, who has remained active and even won the election in 1999.
As for the BJP’s current alliance with former Congressman Kuldeep Bishnoi’s HJC, the BJP is contesting eight of the state’s 10 seats while the HJC is contesting two. Here, there was bickering over the Karnal seat, which was initially in the HJC fold but was swapped with Sirsa on Thursday.
The BJP anyway wanted Karnal, where Bishnoi had even announced his controversial brother Chander Mohan’s candidature before Mohan pulled out under apparent pressure from the BJP. Now, the HJC gets Sirsa — in the same belt as Bishnoi’s own seat Hisar — and has announced the candidature of former INLD MP Dr Sushil Kumar Indora, who had later remained with the Congress also.
The BJP has picked newspaper owner Ashwini Kumar Chopra (‘Minna’) as its nominee from Karnal.
In 2009, the BJP had contested LS elections along with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), but they failed to win any seat. Their long-time relationship ended before the assembly polls later that year.
The BJP, on its own, is seen as a party with limited influence in the key Jat belt, and its present ally HJC also has an image of polarising non-Jat voters.
As such, the BJP relies on the non-Jat voters, like the Punjabi and Bishnoi communities. To stitch a coalition with Jat voters, a section of the BJP admits that a tie-up with the INLD would have been better.
Even then, the INLD is strategically supporting the BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi not only to undercut the influence of the BJP’s HJC partnership but also to gain from any post-poll realignment of parties.
Primarily, in the season of ‘clean image’, the BJP did not tie up with the INLD as the latter’s top two leaders — former CM Om Prakash Chautala and his son Ajay Chautala — are in jail for a scam in recruitment of teachers.