Caste-ing out corruption: Here's how BJP won Haryana

Updated on Oct 20, 2014 05:09 PM IST

In scripting a historic victory in Haryana that catapulted the BJP to power for the first time in the state, the party rode on the Modi momentum of the general election and consolidated non-Jat voters to its advantage.

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Hindustan Times | By, Chandigarh

In scripting a historic victory in Haryana that catapulted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to power for the first time in the state, the saffron party essentially rode on the Modi momentum of the 2014 general election and crafted a new social engineering formula of consolidating non-Jat voters to its advantage.

Also, it deftly exploited the corruption plank against its two chief opponents, the incumbent Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), whose chief Om Prakash Chautala is in the Tihar jail in a recruitment scam.

From being a fringe player in state politics - with a tally of only four seats in the outgoing 90-member assembly, BJP's chart-busting feat of bagging 47 - all on its own - has , for once, made it the main political pole in the Jatland. The verdict also turned the state's time-old Jat-centric caste calculus on its head.

BJP owes its emphatic win as much to the Modi magic as to an incumbency ire against the ten-year Congress rule led by chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda

HT Explains: Understanding Modi wave and Congress rout in Haryana?

As in the summer Lok Sabha polls, the controversial high-profile Vadra-DLF deal lent a heavy artillery to the BJP to amplify and reinforce its charges of misrule against the Congress.

With Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its mascot in a pincer campaign that targeted both Hooda and an incarcerated Chautala on the issue of corruption, the party singularly betted on the non-Jat voters comprising chiefly upper castes and OBCs - roughly 55% of state's electorate - that eventually deserted the Congress. Both tactics turned out to be the centre-piece of its winning strategy.

In fact, it was an unprecedented performance in the Lok Sabha slugfest: BJP won seven of ten seats in Haryana that emboldened the party to embark on a well-calculated gambit of going it alone in the assembly polls.

It quickly - and unceremoniously - dumped its local ally, Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), which had drawn a blank in the Lok Sabha polls.

Convinced that Kuldeep Bishnoi's fledgling HJC has a weak grip on its traditional non-Jat vote bank, BJP president-chief strategist Amit Shah shrewdly used the wrangling over seat-sharing as a ruse to break off the alliance.

Also, in the Lok Sabha poll outcome, Shah sensed an opportunity in the palpable anger in the non-Jat constituency against the Hooda government's brazen pro-Jat bias in the matters of development and jobs.

While crafting a new social engineering of consolidating the non-Jats, Shah used the ticketing strategy to split 23% of the Jat vote bank known to vote in en bloc - and thus swing the elections as a key deciding factor.

To this end, he drafted disgruntled a couple of well-known Jat leaders of both the Congress and the INLD, and fielded no less than 32 Jat faces - a tactic that eventually worked to BJP's advantage while dashing INLD's hope of rallying the Jats behind it.

Clearly, BJP's high-stakes gamble has paid off to bring it a crowning glory that it had never tasted before in the Jatland.

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    A journalist of over 35 years standing, Ramesh Vinayak is Executive Editor of Hindustan Times at Chandigarh He specialises in covering the north Indian territory of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, besides the Punjabi diaspora.

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