INLD-BSP alliance: Dalit vote bank back in focus in Haryana
The alliance has forced all political parties, including the ruling BJP, to rekindle their focus on the 19% scheduled caste vote bank in the state.india Updated: May 22, 2018 12:00 IST
The freshly brewed alliance between Om Prakash Chautala’s Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has warmed the political climate in Haryana.
The alliance has forced all political parties, including the ruling BJP, to rekindle their focus on the 19% scheduled caste vote bank in the state. Chief minister (CM) Manohar Lal Khattar dined at a Dalit’s house in Salaru village of Indri assembly constituency recently and the Congress high command almost gave up thoughts of replacing the state Congress president, Ashok Tanwar, a Dalit leader.
- Scheduled caste votes: About 19% of the total electorate
- Chamar: 50% of the SC voters
- Balmiki: 19% of the SC voters
- Dhanak: 12% of the SC voters
- Others: 19% of the SC voters
- Reserved assembly constituencies:17% of the SC voters
- Reserved Lok Sabha seats: 2
The tie-up with BSP, steered by the INLD, with an eye to consolidate Dalit voters in the state is being seen as party’s last ditch attempt to grasp power in the state after a decade-and-a-half of hiatus. Primarily, the aim is to pocket the Chamar votes which account for about 50% of the scheduled caste (SC) voters in Haryana. The Chamar voters have shown a proclivity to tilt towards the BSP. The Balmikis account for about 19% and Dhanaks for about 12% of the scheduled caste vote bank. The Balmiki and Dhanak votes however get divided between the Congress and other parties.
“There are about 40 assembly seats (out of total 90) where the BSP holds a vote share between 7% and 8%. And there are about 60 assembly seats where the INLD has a vote share of about 30%. Thus, the INLD and the BSP alliance can easily reap about 39 to 40% votes in the state and get a clear majority in the state assembly,” said INLD leader and Chautala’s younger son Abhay Singh.
The two parties have, earlier, also formed an alliance with good outcomes during the 1998 Lok Sabha elections. The INLD, which was known as Haryana Lok Dal (Rashtriya) in 1998 won four of the seven Lok Sabha seats it contested in Haryana, while the BSP won Ambala (reserved) seat out of the three it contested. The INLD won Sirsa (reserved) seat, Kurukshetra, Sonepat and Hisar LS seats in alliance with the BSP.
INLD’S SUCCESS IN SC SEATS
The INLD, known as a Jat-centric party, having strong base in the rural constituencies, has traditionally done well in 17 assembly seats reserved for scheduled caste candidates in Haryana. The party won 13 reserved seats in 2000 assembly polls when it climbed to power. It won six seats (out of total 9 it won in the 2005 poll drubbing) and got nine seats (out of 31 it won) in 2009.
“Whenever the INLD did well in the reserved constituencies, it was due to the support of Jat voters,” said an INLD functionary, who did not want to be named. In 2014 assembly polls, the INLD however could register win only in three reserved constituencies. The BJP emerged as the main aggregator of reserved seats in 2014 polls with a tally of nine followed by the Congress with four seats.
BSP, A NON STARTER
The BSP on the other hand has remained a non-starter in Haryana politics though in almost every assembly poll it bags a seat. The party does not have a sound organisational set-up in Haryana and has a poor record and inconsistent leadership. “Every election one sees new faces leading the BSP in Haryana. The party does not have a single leader of some stature and mass base,” said a Congress leader from Haryana.
Political experts say the INLD-BSP tie-up could prove to be double-edged sword for the INLD. “Jats and Dalits can never go together. I wonder how much the INLD would gain politically from the BSP which itself does not have any standing in the state. What the INLD needs right now is to have a pact with a political force from southern Haryana to restore power balance in the state,” said an INLD insider.
LONGEVITY OF THE ALLIANCE
The INLD has a poor track record when it comes to having tie ups. Even when it formed the government in 2000, the party had sour relations with its natural ally, the BJP. The INLD-BJP alliance fell apart after the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Haryana watchers say that since it’s still a long way to go for the Lok Sabha and assembly elections, whether the INLD can nurture the tie-up remains open remains to be seen.
First Published: May 22, 2018 11:58 IST