BJP could face a challenge in 5 Haryana , 6 Rajasthan seats: Survey | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

BJP could face a challenge in 5 Haryana , 6 Rajasthan seats: Survey

By, New Delhi
Apr 13, 2024 04:40 AM IST

Haryana and Rajasthan have 10 and 25 LS seats, respectively. In 2019, the party won all the Haryana seats; it won 24 in Rajasthan and its then ally RLP, one.

The 370-seat target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his party in the upcoming general elections is causing some nervous moments for the Bharatiya Janata Party’s managers in Haryana and Rajasthan. In both states, the BJP registered a perfect score, winning all Lok Sabha seats in 2019. But about 50 days before counting day, internal surveys are suggesting that the party may have a fight on its hands in five seats in Haryana and six seats in Rajasthan.

BJP supporters during a public meeting for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, in Uttar Pradesh on Friday. (PTI PHOTO)
BJP supporters during a public meeting for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, in Uttar Pradesh on Friday. (PTI PHOTO)

HT has learnt that the seats that have been flagged by the party’s managers are Rohtak, Sonepat, Sirsa, Hisar and Karnal out of the 10 seats of Haryana. In Rajasthan, an internal report has said that Barmer, Churu, Nagaur, Dausa, Tonk, and Karauli, out of the 25 seats in the state, may pose a challenge.

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To be sure, it is exactly this kind of focus that has helped the BJP become the national political hegemon. Elections are dynamic and things can change dramatically in days, but the two internal surveys cited above suggest there is some overt pushback against the candidates.

Take the Sirsa seat in Haryana, for instance, where the BJP has made former Rahul Gandhi aide and Dalit leader Ashok Tanwar their candidate. On Thursday, a video of a BJP vehicle in Sirsa being stoned and hit with sticks went viral. While Tanwar said he wasn’t in the car, party colleagues said that he was in the vehicle shortly before it was attacked . When asked about the red flags raised in the internal survey, Tanwar played them down.

“ I am sure that we will repeat last time’s verdict with a bigger margin,” said Tanwar.

A cross-section of BJP leaders in the state said there are several areas of concern. First, the alienation of the Jat vote that makes up almost a third of all votes. The Jat anger can be gauged by the exit of their representatives Birender Singh and his son Brijendra Singh from the party. But more importantly, it’s also the apparent anger about the Agnipath scheme.

Brijendra Singh specifically raised the issue about this scheme, which marked a major departure from the military’s decades-old recruitment system that was discontinued when the National Democratic Alliance government announced the new scheme in June 2022. It seeks to recruit soldiers for only four years, with a provision to retain 25% of them in regular service. Those recruited under the new scheme are called Agniveers.

Second, the question mark over other backward class or OBC votes. In the last assembly election, the party’s effort to consolidate this vote to make up for the absence of Jat support did not work very effectively and the party fell short. This, say party insiders, is why the party has a new chief minister, Nayab Singh Saini , an OBC himself.

The third key factor is the lingering impact of the farmers’ protest. And the fourth, the perception that homegrown leaders have been ignored. Tanwar and Naveen Jindal got tickets almost immediately after joining the party. “Not just that. Just days after joining, Tanwar was the one who welcomed new leaders into the party. At a function to welcome Ranjit Chautala’s joining, he was the one officiating. Where were OP Dhankar (former state unit president) and Captain Abhimanyu (former minister)?’’

One of the BJP’s solutions in these seats is to use its trump card, Narendra Modi. On Thursday, for instance, he visited Karauli in Rajasthan, a reserved seat where the BJP is fielding a Jatav for the first time, hoping to wean the community away from the Congress.

In Churu, the party’s sitting MP Rahul Kaswan moved to the Congress because he wasn’t given a ticket. And in Barmer, the Rajputs seem to be upset with the person fielded by the party.

Senior leader Satish Poonia who was himself denied a ticket tells HT that while there may be concerns, the BJP is sure to win all these seats. “As elections get closer, all these concerns die down and people will come together to vote back BJP. I am confident of that”.

The other concern for the party is extreme heat. While elections in Rajasthan will end by April 26, Haryana goes to polls only on May 25. Getting everyone to the voting booth with the mercury rising will need the most dedicated cadres, leaders say. However, experts say that because Haryana is a satellite state adjoining Delhi, the double engine dream works for the BJP.

Professor Ashutosh Kumar, who teaches at Panjab University, said that while the BJP may not lose five seats in the state, they will have to overcome Jat anger. “This time there is 10 years of anti-incumbency that the state has to deal with and the Jat anger is real. Couple that with the fact that Opposition leader Bhupinder Hooda is in control, the BJP could lose its complete domination.’’

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    Sunetra Choudhury is the National Political Editor of the Hindustan Times. With over two decades of experience in print and television, she has authored Black Warrant (Roli,2019), Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous (Roli,2017) and Braking News (Hachette, 2010). Sunetra is the recipient of the Red Ink award in journalism in 2016 and Mary Morgan Hewett award in 2018.

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