Politics in Haryana underwent a considerable change before the withdrawal of nomination on May 9 for the Lok Sabha Election scheduled in the penultimate phase VI on May 25. Election campaign would start from tomorrow in a backdrop of change of BJP’s chief minister on the eve of election on March 12, split in NDA making the allies BJP and JJP apart, and only less than two months after Nayab Singh Saini government in the state reduced to minority after desertion of three independent MLAs withdrawing their support on May7.It is certainly ominous for BJP, since the party aims to win all the 10 Lok Sabha Seats from the state which it had won in 2019 Lok Sabha election, because it can’t afford loss of any seat if the target set by the Prime Minister has to be achieved.

Former Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, who was replaced with another Chief Minister Nayab Singh Saini, is contesting from Karnal Lok Sabha constituency. The three MLAs, who have withdrawn their support from the Saini government, have now extended support to the Congress. They have first said that Khattar was their leader, but when he is not there on the seat of power, they had nothing to do with Saini. It indicated that there was a rift within the BJP between the two camps – Khattar and Saini, however, later the independent MLAs even attacked Khattar for being humiliated in his election campaigns. It is a new development, that signifies that even Khattar is losing his personal support base in the state.

It was obvious when Khattar was filing his nomination and his roadshow, where there are not many enthusiastic people seen – either on the road, nor on the roadside onlookers or the onlookers on the housetops. Everything seemed to be just a normal affair and the enthusiasm for election was not seen among the people. It has been noticed and widely reported in the media. Khattar was brought in the political scene of Haryana by PM Narendra Modi in 2014, making him chief minister of the state. Modi’s idea was to just break the Jat domination in state politics. Modi was successful in his object because of absence of any important Jat leader in the state politics. However, in 2019 state election, JJP of Dushyant Chautala emerged with Jat support base. It was a shock for the BJP leadership, since the party had won all the 10 Lok Sabha seats from the state just few months before. Diminishing of such a political fortune of BJP was unexpected, and the party had to make alliance with JJP to form the state government under Chief Minister Khattar.

Five years later in 2024, PM Modi felt that BJP cannot afford to share its Lok Sabha seats with its ally JJP, and hence JJP was humiliated to compel it to quit the alliance. Alliance was broken in March. BJP leadership thought that partying ways of JJP would make the contest triangular among BJP, INDIA bloc, and JJP, which would brighten their prospect of retaining the 10 seats they had won. However, it was a very simplistic view of a complex political situation that was emerging in the state. BJP leadership was well aware that the Punjabi community in the state was not happy with Manohar Lal Khattar, himself a Punjabi. He had also antagonized the OBC community in the state. In pursuit of the OBC politics, PM Narendra Modi has replaced Khattar with Saini, an OBC politician. However, it seems to have boomeranged. Punjabis and OBCs both are now not so happy with the BJP leadership, because many from both the communities are feeling humiliated and are ready to protect their self-respect.

The three independent MLAs withdrawing support has pointed out that they have done this for their self-respect, apart from the other issues relating to farmers and rising unemployment among youth. As for the JJP, it has announced support to Congress if it moves motion to bring down minority BJP government of the state. In the Haryana House of 90, BJP has only 40 MLAs, while Congress has 30 and JJP has 10. Two seats are vacant, since Khattar had resigned as an MLA from Karnal, and Ranjit Singh Chautala has resigned from Rania as independent candidate. Ranjit is also contesting as BJP candidate from Hisar Lok Sabha constituency. Effective strength in Vidhan Sabha is thus only 88.BJP has support of only 3 MLAs and hence the government has reduced to minority. It is to be seen whether Lok Sabha election is conducted while there is minority BJP government in the state or a new government is formed.

As against this Congress and AAP have joined hands in the state for the Lok Sabha election. AAP is contesting from Kurukshetra, and Congress is contesting the rest 9 Lok Sabha seats. Congress would like to move a motion of no confidence to oust the BJP government. With the resurgent Congress, INDIA block is thus well set to challenge BJP candidates in all the seats. The recent farmers’ agitation of February 2024and its ruthless suppression by Khattar government has made the entire farmer community angry. Their opposition was such that PM Modi had to remove Khattar as chief minister within a month of the launch of the farmers’ agitation. Though former CM Khattar has exuded confidence that BJP will again win all 10 Lok Sabha seats in 2024 polls, analysts are of the view that he himself is facing a tough battle in Karnal, very hard to retain his own seat.

It should be noted that BJP had bagged 58.21 per cent of votes in 2019 Lok Sabha election, while INC had bagged 28.51 per cent. However, in Vidhan Sabha election held just a few months later, BJP, in a triangular contest with INC and JJP, was able to get only 36.49 per cent of votes. Congress had bagged 28.08 per cent and JJP 14.80 per cent. BJP is obviously in a very difficult situation in retaining its seats, especially when BJP has no ally, is vertically split in groupism, and scattering of its support base is now visible. Regaining its lost ground would not be easy for the BJP this time.


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