BJP benefits from opposition disarray in Haryana

Poornima Joshi New Delhi | Updated on October 03, 2019 Published on October 03, 2019

Its list of candidates includes star wrestlers, a former CM’s grandson, and a Tik-Tok star

With its final list of candidates showcasing a Tik-Tok star besides a famed wrestler and the iconic Chaudhary Devi Lal’s grandson, the BJP in Haryana has displayed a psychological advantage that dims factors such as a Jat consolidation, simmering anger among the Dalit Ravidasi community and the economic downturn that may have otherwise helped the Congress in the upcoming Haryana elections.

The ruling party declared the names of 12 more candidates, among whom was a minor TV and Tik-Tok star Sonali Phogat, who was fielded from Adampur against former Chief Minister Bhajan Lal’s son, who is the sitting MLA from the seat. The party has thus declared all its candidates before the last date of nominations, on October 4. These include celebrated wrestlers, Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar Dutt, and the grandson of former Chief Minister Chaudhary Devi Lal.

Maintains momentum

The BJP has kept up the momentum of the Lok Sabha elections, when it won all the 10 Parliamentary seats and cornered an impressive vote share of over 58 per cent. According to BJP national executive member and former MP from Chandigarh Satyapal Jain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and BJP President Amit Shah’s “magic” will ensure that the Assembly elections are a “cakewalk” for the BJP.

“The BJP will repeat its Lok Sabha victory in the Assembly elections. There are only two things that matter — PM Modi’s popularity and party President Amit Shah’s magic touch to elections. The Opposition is fragmented and we are very confident,” said Jain.

INLD weak

The ground reality is that unlike all previous elections where the regional party, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), was a distinct presence, this is a direct contest between the BJP and the Congress. The INLD has been reduced to a shadow with its foremost leader, Om Prakash Chautala, serving a prison term for corruption and his nephew Dushyant Chautala having split to form a splinter group. The BJP has accommodated six of the former INLD MLAs in its fold and given them party tickets.

Under the circumstances, the Jats, who form an estimated over 24 per cent of the electorate and have traditionally been the support base of both the Congress and the INLD, would have normally been expected to consolidate around the Congress. The appointment of Kumari Selja as the local party unit chief by the Congress was also presumably to mobilise support among about 19 per cent of the Dalit population, especially after the anger expressed by the Ravidasi community over the demolition of a Ravidas temple in Delhi earlier this month. Along with the discontent among the business community over the slowdown in the economy, the BJP’s victory run would have faced at least a token challenge had the Congress put up a united front.

However, the Congress is a divided house with its recently-removed party chief Ashok Tanwar and leader of the Congress Legislative Party Kiran Chaudhary forming different factions against the party’s chief ministerial aspirant Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Kumari Selja.

The BJP, on the other hand, has formed a united column behind Modi and Shah.

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Published on October 03, 2019
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