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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Explained: Why Haryana’s Baroda bypoll is challenging for both BJP and Congress

A look at how the Baroda assembly seat matters for both the ruling and the opposition parties, and why the bypoll wouldn't be an easy ride for either of them.

Written by Varinder Bhatia , Edited by Explained Desk | Chandigarh | Updated: October 8, 2020 8:04:05 am
Baroda bypoll, Baroda bye-election, Sonipat bypoll, Haryana bypoll, Haryana Congress, Haryana BJP, Indian ExpressHaryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and his deputy Dushyant Chautala in Chandigarh in 2019. (Express Photo: Jasbir Malhi, File)

Winning the November-3 bypoll to the Baroda assembly segment in Sonipat district may not mean much numerically for the ruling BJP-JJP alliance in the 90-member Haryana’s Vidhan Sabha. However, losing the Jat-dominated seat that it has never won would certainly reflect badly on their image, especially of the BJP. For the opposition Congress, retaining the constituency that has been its stronghold would certainly be a confidence-booster.

The bypoll has been necessitated following the death of Congress’ MLA Sri Krishan Hooda, who won Baroda thrice in a row since 2009.

A look at how the Baroda assembly seat matters for both the ruling and the opposition parties, and why the bypoll wouldn’t be an easy ride for either of them.

What is the demography of Baroda?

There are a total of over 17,7,994 registered voters, 55.38 per cent men and 44.62 per cent women, in the Baroda assembly segment. The constituency has nearly 49 per cent Jat voters, followed by a substantial number of Dalits. A majority of voters in the constituency belong to the rural areas. In the 2019 assembly polls, the constituency witnessed 68 per cent voter turnout. While Congress candidate Sri Krishan Hooda got 34.67 per cent votes, BJP’s Yogeshwar Dutt bagged 30.73 per cent and Janta Jannayak Part’s Bhupinder won 26.45 per cent votes. A total of 11 candidates had contested in 2019.

Read | In Baroda, BJP looks to do a Jind — with some help from JJP

Why is it an uphill task for BJP-JJP?

At this point in time, there are widespread protests and resentment against the BJP-JJP leaders from the farmer community. Opposition will try its best to keep the farmers’ protests alive for another month and hope to gain from it on November 3. They are already planning a month-long multiple protests across the state and rallies in support of farmers and against the state government.

Moreover, Baroda is a constituency that the BJP has never won. Even though JJP has rural roots, the new party is also likely to face difficulties in wooing the rural votebank owing to the growing anger and distrust of farmers in the ruling BJP-JJP government.

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Can 2019 Assembly poll results impact Baroda bypoll?

Likely, since Baroda bypoll is the first election after the BJP’s debacle in 2019 assembly polls. Although the party managed to form the government with the help of JJP’s 10 MLAs, eight of its ministers, Capt Abhimanyu (Narnaund), Rambilas Sharma (Mahendragarh), Om Prakash Dhankar (Badli), Kavita Jain (Sonipat), Krishan Lal Panwar (Israna), Manish Grover (Rohtak), Krishan Kumar Bedi (Shahbad), Karan Dev Kamboj (Radaur), had lost. Also, BJP’s experiment in 2019 assembly polls to field wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt in Baroda could not ensure a victory for the party.

Meanwhile, JJP’s youth leader and deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala’s younger brother Digvijay Chautala had lost his security deposit in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Digvijay had contested from Sonipat (the parliamentary constituency in which Baroda is one of the nine assembly constituencies), but lost badly. Bhupinder Singh Hooda, a veteran Jat leader and two-time chief minister of Haryana, too, lost from Sonipat Lok Sabha constituency though he led with a significant margin in Baroda.

Also read | Baroda bypoll a referendum on BJP-JJP alliance govt: Bhupinder Singh Hooda

Why could it be difficult for Congress too?

The ruling BJP-JJP alliance leaders are set to lure the voters with the promise of more development projects in their constituency given that there remains four years in the tenure of the ruling alliance in Haryana.

Several BJP-JJP leaders have already started assuring voters of multi-crore development projects in Baroda if they win. A number of their leaders are also conveying that the constituency may be deprived in case the alliance isn’t elected.

On September 30, Agriculture minister JP Dalal was in Baroda to inaugurate several projects for the constituency. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, too, was to address the gathering through video-conference. But before Dalal could begin his address, he was informed (on stage) that the Election Commission had announced the bypoll schedule and that a Model Code of Conduct was into force.

How will Baroda bypoll impact the BJP-JJP?

There will be not any substantial impact on the numbers. Currently, the alliance, — BJP with 40 MLAs and JJP with 10 MLAs — is comfortably placed in the 90-member Congress, meanwhile, has 30 MLAs.

However, a defeat could widen fissures in the ruling alliance. BJP would want to use JJP’s rural and Jat votebank to win Baroda, and if the alliance fails to secure a victory, it may consequently impact the alliance. As such, JJP’s Dushyant Chautala is facing resentment from within; at least two of his MLAs have been vocal against him. The Independent MLAs that supported BJP have also started showing resentment.

Also in Explained | What is at stake as 8 seats go to Assembly bypolls in Uttar Pradesh?

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