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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

BJP on a strong footing in northern districts

Political observers say the BJP has an edge over opponents in the area mainly because of the presence of Punjabi community in the urban belts

chandigarh Updated: Oct 01, 2019 23:11 IST
Neeraj Mohan
Neeraj Mohan
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

Once a stronghold of the opposition parties, the northern districts, especially those along the GT Road belt (Ambala to Sonepat), which send 28 legislators to the assembly are now ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s bastion.  Of the 47 seats the BJP won in the 2014 assembly elections, 23 came from northern districts of Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Panipat and Kaithal.  The BJP had won all 10 seats along the GT Road from Ambala city up to Israna.  The fact that the BJP was having a sway in this region got vindicated in the Lok Sabha elections in March when it won all three seats — Ambala, Kurukshetra and Karnal. 

Political observers say the BJP has an edge over opponents in the area mainly because of the presence of Punjabi community in the urban belts. All the big and small towns such as Panchkula, Ambala, Ambala City,  Yamunanagar,  Jagadhri, Kurukshetra, Karnal, Nilokheri, Indri, Radaur, Ladwa, Karnal and Panipat are dominated by Punjabi and Bania communities, who are considered traditional supporters of the BJP.  

PD Sharma, a retired professor of political science from Kurukshetra University, said, “There is sizeable population of people, who migrated from Pakistan after the Partition and most of them have a soft corner for the BJP. Moreover, unlike Jatland and Ahirwal, there is no dominance of one caste or community in the northern districts. All the constituencies have different composition of communities’ voter share, which to some extent goes in BJP’s favour.” On whether the BJP also has an advantage of giving a Punjabi speaking chief minister from Karnal, he said, “This factor could also work to some extent as now Khattar, who originally belonged to Rohtak, has shifted to Karnal.”

Except Samalkha, Pehowa, Pundri, Kaithal and Kalayat, all the assembly segments of northern districts are represented by the BJP. Of the five non-BJP MLAs in 2014, two — Ravinder Machhroli from  Smalkha and Dinesh Kaushik from Pundri — are already in the saffron fold. The BJP, this time, has fielded former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh from Sikh-dominated Pehowa seat, which had fallen vacant due to the death of INLD MLA Jaswinder Sandhu.

The BJP is also making efforts to strengthen itself in Kaithal district where it lost three seats in the last election.  Kaithal is represented by senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala and Kalayat by another Jat leader Jai Prakash.