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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Ahead of assembly polls, Opposition parties in Haryana in a mess |Opinion

Internal strife, desertions and lack of strategy are plaguing key opposition players in Haryana.

opinion Updated: Sep 09, 2019 21:45 IST
Hitender Rao
Hitender Rao
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Haryana’s new Congress chief Kumari Selja has a tall order to rejuvenate a faction-ridden party ahead of the assembly elections in the state.
Haryana’s new Congress chief Kumari Selja has a tall order to rejuvenate a faction-ridden party ahead of the assembly elections in the state.(HT PHOTO)

Opposition parties in Haryana seem to be in complete disarray ahead of the 2019 assembly elections in the state while the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has already gone into campaign mode with Prime Minister Narendra Modi endorsing chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar for a second term.

Battered and bruised after a crushing defeat at the hands of the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha polls, the three major opposition parties – the Congress, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the Jannayak Janta Party (JJP) have been hampered by infighting, desertions and lack of strategy.

The fringe players like the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Swaraj India do not have the political reach and the ability to make a dent on their own and are mere poll spoilers.

The scenario seems to be working to the advantage of the ruling BJP, sitting pretty after the triumphant performance in the recent Parliamentary elections. The poll schedule is likely to be announced by the Election Commission anytime soon.

Change of guard in the Congress

The Congress high command seems to have harmed its electoral prospects by inordinately delaying the change of guard in the state. By appointing Rajya Sabha member, Kumari Selja as the new state Congress president and two time chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda as the leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) and chairman of the election management committee, the party high command has made a belated attempt to stall its plummeting fortunes and pep up the demoralized workers.

But it may not be enough considering the fact that assembly polls are just a month away.

Senior journalist and Haryana watcher, VP Prabhakar says the delay in decision making will cost the Congress. “The party high command slept over matters of immediate importance for over three months after the Lok Sabha results. And even now, it would hard to unite the warring factions in the party. The biggest problem is that Congress high command does not intervene effectively to quell factionalism in the state unit,’’ Prabhakar said.

INLD’s decimation

From being the principal opposition party in the assembly, the INLD has been reduced to a marginal player after a split in the Chautala family, leading to the formation of Dushyant Chautala’s JJP and subsequent desertions. The INLD once looked formidable after entering into an alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). However, the partnership ended following the split in the party.

The INLD badly lost the Lok Sabha polls with all its candidates losing their deposits. Recent efforts of rapprochement between the two entities notwithstanding, the INLD has lost a lot of political ground in the past 10 months.

“Even if they get together now, there seems to be little hope for the duo,’’ says Prabhakar.

The drifting JJP

The brainchild of Dushyant Chautala, the ambitious grandson of former chief minister Om Prakash Chautala, the JJP was once perceived as a promising rising force in the state. Its stupendous performance in Jind by-poll earlier this year where Dushyant’s younger brother, Digvijay Chautala finished an impressive second had made everyone sit and take notice of the fledgling outfit.

However, the party failed to impress in the Lok Sabha polls and barring Dushyant, all its candidates lost their deposits. Its alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the Lok Sabha polls also ended. The JJP suffered another blow recently when its month-old electoral alliance with the BSP also ended.

A keen political watcher, Prof Raghuvendra Tanwar, Professor Emertius, Kurukshetra University, says right now things are completely one-sided in Haryana. “I don’t remember such a scenario in the recent times. The opposition parties are in shambles. The level of commitment in the Congress workers is sorely missing. As far as Chautalas are concerned, it’s a sad state of affairs,’’ Tanwar said.

First Published: Sep 09, 2019 21:45 IST