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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

BJP-HJC split may divide non-Jat votes, harm saffron party

Hitender Rao, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, August 29, 2014
First Published: 11:35 IST(29/8/2014) | Last Updated: 15:49 IST(5/9/2014)

The split up between Kuldeep Bishnoi’s Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and the BJP following an acrimonious innings in the last six months has serious political ramifications for the saffron party.

The BJP-HJC coalition was seen as a platform for the non-Jat electorate who are agitated over 18 years of nonstop reign by successive Jat chief ministers in the state. Jats in Haryana account for about 25 % of the electorate and are single largest community in the state.

The community often has a decisive say in almost 40 assembly seats (out of 90). 

The two allies in their own ways had been projecting themselves as a workable alternate to the non-Jat communities speckled across the state. Kuldeep Bishnoi who is the son of late Haryana chief minister, Bhajan Lal, clearly espouses the cause of non-Jat electorate and the legacy of his father who was considered the most influential non-Jat chief minister.

The BJP very well knows the prevailing anti-Jat sentiment in the state and has strategically refrained from naming its chief ministerial candidate. With a Brahmin (Ram Bilas Sharma) at the helm, the saffron party is playing the guessing game, trying to capitalise on the ambivalence.

 Political analysts say that under these circumstances, the BJP-HJC duo would have been in an ideal position to attract the non-Jat electorate. But the break up will mean a split in the non-Jat votebank. “The break up has created another entity in the multi-cornered contest. This could perplex the non-Jat voters,’’ said a BJP sympathiser.

Following the break up between the two allies, the ruling Congress looks relieved to some extent.

The multi-cornered contest would suit the Congress and it can hope to prevent a hammering.  Even the Indian National Lok Dal would feel relieved, said an expert. 

The BJP which was never considered a serious player on Haryana turf suddenly found its bearing after the superb showing in the Lok Sabha elections.

The saffron party won seven of the eight seats it contested in Haryana and has started harbouring dreams of forming the next state government on its own.

Their smugness has a lot to do with the poor performance of HJC in the Lok Sabha polls where Bishnoi’s fledgling outfit lost both the seats it contested. As a result, the BJP took a somersault on the agreed terms and conditions of contesting 45 seats each in the assembly polls. Instead, BJP national president, Amit Shah, offered a mere 18 seats to the HJC for assembly polls.

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