Haryana results: For youth, absence of jobs
The election results in Haryana went against the idea that the BJP has successfully managed to disconnect economics from politics by focusing on its nationalist agenda. Haryana, which has a population over 40 lakh in the 20-29 age bracket, has witnessed a steep rise in unemployment over the last five years.
A report by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy for May-August 2019 pegged unemployment in the state at 28.7 per cent, the highest in the country. A few years ago, it had been only 8 per cent. It is estimated that there are 2.02 million unemployed young people in the state and over half of them are matriculates and above.
While the BJP sought to highlight transparency in recruitment to Class IV posts, its rivals drummed home the rising joblessness. The loss of jobs in the Manesar-Gurugram belt also appear to have hurt the BJP, which fell short of the halfway mark.
The Congress and the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP) harped on disappearing jobs during their campaign, with the latter promising to implement the right to work and a 75 per cent job quota for locals. Many Haryanvis, who had voted for the nationalist agenda in the Lok Sabha polls, seem to have decided that local issues mattered more in the Assembly polls.
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Haryana election results: Congress’ Gandhis out of limelight
This was one election where the Gandhi family of the Congress did not play a lead role in campaigning. Most of the canvassing was done by the candidates themselves, with some help from state Congress Legislature Party chief Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the new state Congress chief Kumari Selja. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed seven rallies in the state, Rahul Gandhi addressed only two.
The upswing in the fortunes of Congress, from 15 seats in 2014 to 31 now, indicates that the Gandhi star appeal did not matter. Two-time former Chief Minister Hooda, who is facing investigations in the Manesar land scam, emerged the clear leader of the Congress with his focus on local issues.
The fear that former state Congress chief Ashok Tanwar’s resignation from the party, and his support to both the JJP and the INLD, would affect the party’s performance, too, was proved wrong. Hooda got the lion’s share in the distribution of tickets, and the Congress swept his strongholds of Rohtak, Sonipat and Jhajjar. The Congress won 11 of the 15 seats in the Jat belt with the BJP taking three and one going to an independent.
Emergence of Dushyant Chautala in Haryana
The JJP, formed out of a split in the INLD, has emerged as a third front by bagging 10 seats in its maiden elections. A new leader in has emerged in Dushyant Chautala, 31, great-grandson of Chaudhary Devi Lal. Known for his oratorical and organisational skills, he has demonstrated that the state is ready for a youthful leadership. Many of the cadre votes that used to go to the INLD have shifted to Dushyant, showing discontent with a moribund leadership. That he also has the Chaudhary Devi Lal lineage also helps.
Interestingly, candidates from political families did reasonably well in elections regardless of their party affiliation. Kiran Chaudhry (Congress) was able to retain her seat, as was Kuldeep Bishnoi. Abhay Chautala was the only INLD winner, in results that spelt doom for the party. Founded in October 1996 as Haryana Lok Dal by Chaudhary Devi Lal, who served as Deputy Prime Minister and as Chief Minister twice, the INLD used to give the national parties a tough fight in Haryana. Even in 2014, it had won 19 seats, four more than Congress, to emerge as the principal opposition.
Hurt by over-confidence
The slogan ‘Mano again’ for Manohar Lal Khattar did not resonate with Haryanvis on the ground. CM Khattar’s statements such as “Main anaadi nahin siyasat ka khiladi hoon’’, backfired with the Opposition accusing him of being arrogant. There was an uproar on social media when, during his Jan Ashirwaad Yatra preceding the polls, Khattar threatened to behead a man who had crowned him (he later clarified it was because he believed in equality).
The fall of heavyweights in his ministry — those defeated included eight ministers and the BJP state chief — showed that the top echelons of the government had failed to connect with people despite the multitude of people-friendly initiatives. Bakshish Singh Virk, the BJP candidate from Assandh, who had bragged that no matter which button you press, the vote will go to BJP, also lost the seat he had won in 2014.
Some of the results showed substance can trump star appeal. Sports stars Babita Phogat and Yogeshwar lost, while Sonali Phogat, the Tik Tok star, was defeated from Adampur. Sandeep Singh, the former hockey captain who overcame a debilitating injury, managed to swing Pehowa because his story of grit resonated in a constituency populated by Partition refugees.
Jats remain a factor in Haryana
Although the BJP sought to move beyond the dominance of Jats, the community did make a difference in 36 seats across four parliamentary constituencies. In the Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had secured more than 70 percent of both non-Jat upper caste votes and OBC votes besides 50 per cent of Jat votes as per data from Lokniti-CSDS. But many Jats who had voted for the BJP’s nationalist agenda in the Lok Sabha polls, cast their vote on local issues in the Assembly polls.